This morning I found myself reading in the book of Esther, where I kind of stumbled on a sentence that spoke volumes about good leadership, or lack thereof. In verse 15 of chapter 3, it says, “The messengers scurried forth with the king’s order. The edict was issued in Susa the citadel. While the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in an uproar!” I’ve read the book of Esther a number of times, but this was the first time this almost small note jumped out to me.
The commentary on this passage is shameful, but there are great lessons to be learned as a leader. In this story, the king and his highest official send out an edict that permitted the killing and plundering of all the Jews. And as the edict went out, they threw back drinks while the people in their kingdom were in disarray.
While we as business leaders may never issue a similar decree, we have the power to make decisions that will dramatically impact the lives and welfare of the people we employ and lead, and we have to stay sensitive and compassionate toward them. We can’t be like the king and Haman, who were only concerned for themselves.
In business, we have to make tough decisions. We have to decide if we need to fire or layoff, if we can afford to provide health insurance and adequate paid time off, or if we ask our team to work well above a 40 hour work week or to enjoy a balanced life. Some of these decisions are purely a matter of what we can afford to do, but I encourage business owners to make these kinds of decisions through a compassionate and caring lens. To consider others better than ourselves. Over the years, I made several decisions to provide and care for my team, understanding that it meant that I would take home less profit, but I have no regrets.
And this isn’t just about being a nice person…it’s building your business’s brand. Will you create a company culture that encourages team members to stay onboard, or to leave at the first opportunity presented to them? Your team will work harder for you and be extremely loyal and trustworthy when they know that you give great weight to their happiness and wellbeing before you make decisions that would impact them.