Building and Developing Great Leaders

“When your company says you want your employees to be leaders, 

what that really means is that you want their emotional commitment to your vision. 

A leader’s emotional commitment is about taking on the company’s success as a personal crusade.” 

– Stan Slap

Unnamed 14, The DiJulius GroupGoing from rebel to revolutionary is easier than turning into Blockbuster. When entrepreneurs start a company, they find a few crazy people to join them, people who see how their vision will change the world. That founding group of employees rallies together makes ridiculous sacrifices, fails, innovates, fails some more, and eventually figures it out. Why? Because the founding team members were in the foxhole with the entrepreneur. It was “them against the world”. And it was foundational to building and developing great leaders.

How to Not Lose the Soul of a Startup 

After they get through that phase, growth comes, and more employees are needed resulting in layers of leadership. Now you have employees being hired by people—with varying leadership skills—who don’t have that fuel, and emotional connection to the original rebels. You lose your mavericks, and the soul of a startup disappears. The magic that was a magnetic force attracting rockstars who would follow the founder into battle is gone. No more genuinely cohesive teams. Employee engagement is now about growth and hitting the numbers, productivity, and efficiency, a general attitude resulting in average leaders and ultimately affecting the customer’s experience.

Entrepreneurial Energy and Commitment

An infinitely better alternative: building and developing great leaders. The key is to replicate that entrepreneurial spirit, instilling it into the leadership philosophy of the next generations of leaders who will rally their teams around the company’s cause. This is much easier said than done but it remains the biggest differentiator in the most successful organizations. If your leaders are not infused with that energy, your employees never will be.

Building a great internal culture and leading the Employee Experience Revolution starts with developing your high-potential employees into great leaders, making your existing ones better, and creating an emerging talent pipeline for the next generation of exceptional leaders in your company. 

Leadership Burnout Across Organizations

The Great Resignation wasn’t only about turnover at the employee level. Leaders at all levels quit and moved on for the same reasons employees quit, including burnout and lack of respect, meaning, and purpose in their careers. And just like how organizations replaced employee turnover, companies compromised when replacing their leaders and/or rushed the process, setting up their emerging leaders for failure and additional stress.

Leaders at every level bore the brunt of turnover and attrition fallout, especially middle managers. When a team member quits, it is almost always the leader’s responsibility to pick up the pieces. Rehires don’t happen overnight. Shifts need to be covered, an attempt made at keeping morale up amongst employees who have chosen to stay, interviewing, training replacements, and dealing with customer complaints that inevitably come with newer customer-facing employees.

Over the last few years, we have asked more of our leaders than ever before. Let’s reward them, let’s help them, let’s support, train, and inspire them. To retain existing leaders and attract future leaders, let’s make extraordinary leadership something that people once again aspire to.

* Related: Helping Your Executive Team Avoid Or Come Back From Burnout In An Uncertain Economy – The DiJulius Group

Leadership Development: Motivating the Motivators

Emerging leaders need to be taught what success looks like. Leadership development starts with having great leaders modeling the behavior. Demonstrating success is inspiring others to achieve more than they thought possible, serving them so they can, and celebrating them when they do. Leadership is about making other people better because of your influence.

“Your leadership’s emotional commitment is what solves problems that are unsolvable, creates energy when all of the energy has been expended, and ignites emotional commitment in others, including your employee culture,” growth guru Stan Slap shares.

Developing Leaders to be “People First”

New and existing leaders tend to focus heavily on results. Why? Because all their incentives are tied to them. Too many leaders had poor role models early on in their careers. The managers they worked for led by fear and intimidation, only focusing on productivity and top-and-bottom-line results, often at the expense of the teams they managed. Those in leadership roles need to strike a balance between getting results and being understanding and empathetic with employees to get their buy-in emotionally and physically. And while it can be difficult to plan and focus on leadership training when many are in a hiring crisis, the reality is the time is now for organizations to focus on developing great leaders. It is never too early to start preparing an employee who has leadership potential.

The single most important determinant of an individual’s performance and commitment to stay with an organization is the relationship the individual has with his or her immediate manager. As stated in McKinsey & Company’s article, The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationships, improving a worker’s job satisfaction can be the most important thing a leader can do. “Few managers realize what a dramatic impact—positive or negative—they have on the world through their everyday behavior. It is the responsibility of senior leaders to enlighten them and provide the organizational context that consistently fosters high-quality relationships between bosses and the people who report to them.”

Communication: Be Human First, a Leader Second

Leaders and employees alike tend to thrive when a shared commitment to excellence is part of the job experience. In the digital revolution, human interaction, compassion, empathy, and communication skills have become premium advantages. It’s time to consider a different approach: building human-centric employee experiences through genuinely caring about your people. So, get to know your employees. Humanize them, humanize yourself.

* Related: 108: Building a World-Class Internal Culture – The DiJulius Group

Unnamed 15, The DiJulius Group

“Care before coach”

                                                                                                                – Ken Blanchard

*New Customer Experience Executive Academy starting in September ’23

Episode 110 of the CSRev Podcast

What it takes to be a Revolutionary

Chief Revolution Officer and best-selling author John DiJulius shares What it takes to be a Revolutionary

In order to be a Revolutionary, you need to:

  • Never say or accept “I gave my best” 
  • Understand the Reality Distortion Field
  • Ask yourself ‘What belief system needs to be changed in your world’?
  • Understand the mindset of a Revolutionary



“You have to create an emotional experience that’s so sticky, so engaging, 

so compelling that they don’t want to leave. To compete in a tough market, 

you have to make your customers feel something.” 

—James Archer



 It is better to lose the Sale than the Reputation

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.