Labor Day was celebrated yesterday in Canada and the U.S. “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.” Last week’s story of how fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was reinstated in his role by force of his employees’ fierce loyalty to him contains a powerful leadership lesson. Demoulas was fired as head of New England Market Basket, a 71 store supermarket chain, in a dispute with his cousin and rival over ownership of the family company.
After Demoulas was let go hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers refused to deliver fresh produce. Customers began shopping elsewhere because of the lack of fresh food and showing support for the workers and their beloved CEO. During the six weeks of protest and turmoil the very busy stores looked like ghost towns and the company lost tens of millions of dollars.
News reports of this remarkable story cited many examples of how Demoulas inspired such intense loyalty and likability. He cared about employees and their families, knew most by name, and treated them as valued associates. The Washington Post quoted Paul Pustorino, an accounting professor at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School. “What this proves is when a CEO can align the best interests of the company with the best interests of the employees, that generates strong employee loyalty and customer loyalty.”
This is a powerful example of what we’ve found in our research on leadership likability. As outlined in a previous blog, “Demanding Leaders Are Much more Effective – and More Likable“, leaders who score high on our Likability Index are also rated as highly effective leaders by their direct reports, peers, manager, and others. These ratings correlate to sharply higher employee satisfaction and engagement, sales, customer service, safety, productivity, quality, and profitability.
Our Likability Index goes beyond an engaging personality and strong interpersonal skills. It also includes attributes such as integrity, problem solving, inspiring and motivating others, and honesty. Click here to see the complete list and take a self-assessment of your personal likability.
Your leadership likeability likely won’t be demonstrated quite so dramatically. But you can have a huge impact on your team and organization.