Manners Will Take You Where Money Won’t

As CEO of firstPRO Staffing and Executive Search, I have spent the last 28 years attracting, placing and retaining the most talented individuals in their specialized fields. When I started this company in 1986, we had five employees. Now we have 125.

Today, this privately held firm is known for the highest dedication to ethical principles, and that is no accident. We have always aimed to be a leader in honesty and integrity.

Based on my experience in business, being a consistent leader is key. You must have stellar work ethic, great people skills and the ability to see the big picture. For me, these things were always ingrained, and I believe that for some people, being in charge and making decisions just comes naturally.

I know from experience that each of these qualities can take you far, but what I also know to be true is this: The most valuable asset you can have in business is flawless manners.  You can acquire this skill if you truly want to.

I believe manners will take you everywhere in every aspect of your business. How you respond and how you follow up says everything. If you can count on your employees to behave and appear correctly, you will inevitably succeed. I want to maintain this high standard for firstPRO, and I want good leadership and good etiquette to define my company.

I often hire people right out of college, and one of the qualities I look for in this leadership package is a genuine and sincere manner. Your employees, clients and colleagues must see you as a clear and consistent communicator, and having good manners is the foundation for this. Often something as simple as a “please” or “thank you” can garner the reaction you want. 

Role playing within the office is a very useful technique. Make eye contact with someone immediately. Stand and greet all clients that enter your work area. Thank the customer and reaffirm that you are looking forward to working with them and building a long term relationship. Remember that you are responsible for presenting yourself as an attractive entity that is valuable in the marketplace. Demonstrating these things commands attention and solidifies you as a role model and a dependable leader. 

Proper phone etiquette is crucial as well. It is all about sales, whether you are selling a product to customers or a concept to your staff, so communicate this in a tactful way. If e-mail is your preferred method of communication, consider this an extension of your professional service and courtesy. Always use proper greetings, grammar and signatures in e-mails. 

As a female business leader, I want to emulate all of this, in addition to having a balanced life. Work is foremost because you have to support yourself, but you also have to give back. Take time to volunteer with charitable or civic organizations; there are countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others, and doing so has boundless rewards. That expression, “lead by example” is a cliché for a reason. Nobody ever became a strong leader by sitting back and letting others put in the time.

Consistent leaders command respect because they conduct themselves with tact and poise. They know and recognize the difference between a personal decision and a business decision and act accordingly. They earn people’s respect, and don’t just require it because of their position. So much is achievable, and you can have it all if you position yourself correctly. A true leader knows this, and can accomplish this with drive, determination, integrity, and above all else, good manners.

By April Fawcett Nagel

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