All Businesses Are in The People Industry

October 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment


One of the greatest lies that you often hear from CEOs and executives is “But you don’t understand my industry” or “my industry is different”. The reality is that all businesses are in the same industry which is the people industry. So when I hear someone say but you don’t understand my industry or my business, what I am forced to ask is “Do you happen to have people who work in your business or do are your employees aliens from some distant planets?” and if you don’t yet have any employees or consultants “Does your business sell to people?”.

Why do I say that every company is in the people industry? It is because changing people behavior and attitudes is likely to yield the most bang for the buck. People have emotions and emotional needs such as fears, aspirations, the need to feel appreciated, valued or that someone cares about them. While most people don’t think that it is an employer’s job to meet these needs, if they are met an employee is more likely to stay on the job and be more productive. To that extent, it is not only the job of business leaders to ensure that employees’ emotional needs are met on the job; perhaps, it is their only job.

To that extent, one definition that I’d like to offer for CEOs no matter what industry they are in is that their job is to manage emotions. This has implications for managers and regular employees. In fact, this has implications for anyone who deals with people in whatever setting including at home. Primarily human beings are emotional, you will have greater impact and connections with them through emotions instead of using logic or structured processes. There is a reason that employee satisfaction is strongly correlated to whether they have a friend or someone who cares about their well being at work.

What does this mean for business leaders, managers, regular employees and anyone who deals with people? I suggest the following:

First of all, know thyself. It is impossible to manage others emotions if you are not aware and in control of your own emotions. This can be accomplished through a combination of the following:

  •  Take tests such as the DISC profile or the Myers-Briggs. I also like tests such as strength finder (Gallup poll) and a less common one called personality research form (
  • Consider attending leadership seminars that will help you discover what drives your behavior (beliefs, attitude and your background). I am biased because it turns out that in my neck of the woods in North Carolina we have some of these best seminars/coaches including the ones led  by my friends at Dorrier Underwood ( I highly recommend the Dorrier Underwood program called Mastery and Advanced Mastery. John Grinnell has also great seminars coupled with some instruments and models that he has developed or enhanced (  Finally, one more development program that I have not attend but has been recommended by others including my own employees is leadership trust (
  • Get a coach who will hold you accountable. This doesn’t have to be a paid coach. Someone you trust and who can give you candid feedback will do. If you’re a CEO or executive, consider joining a group of your peers such as Vistage ( There are similar models to Vistage including one run by Inc Magazine.

Once you have become a master of yourself, you will be on a journey to connect with others.

Entry filed under: Business, Leadership. Tags: .

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October 2012

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