“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.”

Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur, 1918 – 2001

The Quote of the Day is how I start my day. It allows me to step off in a positive manner. There is plenty of anxiety in the world of healthcare today and so I continue to post this feature on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter because it helps me maintain perspective, a quality that is easy to lose when you are focusing on that which creates frustration and worry, or when you think you are more important than you really are.

Mary Kay - You Are ImportantToday’s quote, from legendary Dallas direct sales entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash, is one of those quotes that I will take with me through the rest of today and hopefully the balance of my career. It will serve as a reminder, especially when I am busy and feeling particularly confident, that I cannot forget an important rule of the people business.

Recruiters receive calls all the time — dozens upon dozens each week — from people we do not know or we do not remember and who have a myriad of techniques to start the conversation, usually to ask for consideration in a recruitment engagement, or help with their job search. The calls that are most annoying — and to be honest, they should not be — are the ones in which the caller acts as if I am so lucky that they have called. They usually have an underlying expectation that I should remember them from the last time we spoke two or three years prior. Then there is also the tone of “you are so lucky that I am calling because I am the perfect candidate.” When you are busy, something I am very grateful for, is when you tend to be impatient, not wanting to hear their intro spiel. I confess that I have even interrupted them on more than one occasion with, “What can I do for you today?” In the back of my mind, I must be thinking that I am busy, I am important, get to the point.

As I looked through my list of quotes early this morning, and came upon Mary Kay’s wonderful statement, I cringed a bit. I am guilty, a serial offender. As I thought about past telephone interactions and reactions, I began to think about some broader lessons that I believe we should all consider, especially anyone in management or on the senior leadership team — anyone in a business with people.

In the rough and tumble world of business, with intense expectations and pressure for improved performance, financial and otherwise, I think Mary Kay’s words are filled with extraordinary insight.

For some corporate leaders, including some health systems and hospital management companies, it is all about the money. The physicians and their patients are just a means to an end. Every day, every month, every quarter, there are leaders who grind away on their employees to improve the metrics, intensely pressuring their team to do better than last week or last month. Leaders who do this may enjoy some short-term success but it is typically not sustainable. The leadership turnover in some of these wannabe high performance companies is astounding. They act as if the natural laws of how you should treat people do not apply to them.

Here is what I have learned as an executive and as a search consultant. You cannot have a high performance business without high performance employees, and you cannot achieve the latter with ambitious budgets and a bullwhip. You have to put your employees first, treat them with respect for the important role they play, invest in their future and never fail to give them credit — make them feel important — because they, not you, the leader, are the ones producing the results.

For me, I cannot exist without these callers. They are future candidates or future clients.

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