Business consultants spend a lot of time talking to clients about staff issues – and all too often it’s because someone on the team hasn’t acted in a way that the boss would have done “back in my day”. It’s a tough one – often the employees are younger, therefore from a different generation, and their expectations are quite different. But that doesn’t make them wrong – it just means the boss might have to adjust his or her approach. Sometimes a little, sometime a lot.

But it’s not always easy for them to do that. All too often they, probably reluctantly, must change their ways rather than simply expect the employees to be the only ones who should adapt.

This is not about rolling over and agreeing to every demand the staff member makes but doing what’s needed – sometimes agreeing totally to what’s being asked, sometimes not at all, and sometimes meeting them in the middle. It’s all about modelling the right behaviours – not just agreeing to pay rises left right and centre, but being a good boss in all respects. Someone the team want to follow, someone they respect.

With that in mind, I found the following short article a few years back and tucked it away as one of those things that I might share with others one day. Today is that day. I went to find out who had said it first, and while it turns out that any number of websites claim it as their own, a bit of research seems to indicate that Charles Schulz, the man who gave us “Peanuts”, was responsible.  

And whilst it’s relevant to life in general, it does have relevance in business to the way we approach our work, and particularly our interactions with others we work with.

There are many versions, but it always starts with a short quiz, such as….

  1. Name the three wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last three Masters’ champions.
  3. Name the last three winners of Miss World.

Don’t worry if that was a bit hard; few of us remember the headliners of yesterday. But these are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. They are the greatest of the great. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are eventually buried with their owners.

The there’s another short quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. Name your first teacher from primary school.
  2. Name someone who helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name three people you enjoy spending time with.

That should have been easier.  Because the people who make a difference in others’ lives are not the ones with the best credentials, the most money, or a shelf full of awards. And in business, they are not necessarily either the bosses who unfailingly meet every demand staff make without question, nor the ones who live solely in the past and can’t, or won’t, understand why the demand has been made in the first place. No, they are the ones that care…genuinely care…and who want to make a difference. And that makes them the ones that count. So, ask yourself…. to others, at work or in life in general, are you someone who counts?