Over the holiday break I met with a young professional that attended our Global Youth Leadership Academy years ago. Very bright young lady. She was telling me all about this amazing Silicon Valley company she started working for after she graduated college. She was so passionate about her company’s mission. She was committed to her company’s values. And she was excited to tell me all about her new colleagues at work. It seemed to me she was drinking the Kool-Aid.

So, it shocked me to learn why this young lady wanted to meet with me for coffee.  She needed help looking for a new job. When I asked her why she was looking for a new job…especially after hearing the passion she had for her company…the truth was bone chilling.

“I hate my manager,” she replied.

And then it all made sense to me. People don’t quit jobs. People don’t leave companies. They leave their managers.

When I look back at every job that I’ve ever quit. Or any company that I’ve ever left. It was my manager or my boss or my direct report or a board member that was the reason for my departure. People don’t quit their jobs or leave their companies. They fire the people that lead them.

Bone chilling.

So, this leads to an important question:

If people are the number one reason why employees leave their jobs, then why don’t we invest more in training our people how to become heart-led leaders and heart-led managers?

For the past eight years we’ve been running Heart-Led Leaders Retreats – where we invite 15 to 18 rising to senior leaders to spend three days with me – learning “how to” become a heart-led leader.  We started out doing one retreat a year.  This year we will host six different Heart-Led Leader Men’s and Woman’s Retreats.  Hundreds of leaders from all over the world have participated in one of our leadership retreats.  Because these retreats are 100% confidential, I can’t share specifics…but what I’ve learned over the last eight years is bone chilling.  Leaders don’t work for organizations. They don’t work for companies.  They work for other leaders.  And 100% of their job satisfaction (and success) is not whether they believe in the mission of their organization or company.  It is if they believe in their manager and their leader.

My company is growing. Five months ago, we had three full-time staff members. Today we have six. And within the next month we will have eight. One of the most important qualities of a heart-led leader is to know thyself. I know that I’m a pretty good leader, but I also know that I’m an average to below average manager. I can create and communicate a vision, but I need help getting our team aligned with my vision. Hence, why I hired Paul Whitaker, our chief of staff. Paul is great at where I am weak. I think the number one mistake most leaders make is they confuse the difference between being a good leader versus being an effective manager.

My best friend in college was a guy named Garry Dudley. He was the very first person that I met at East Carolina University back in 1988. And from that day forward we’ve remained very close friends. Garry is the best sales guy that I’ve ever met. And I’ve met thousands of salespeople! What makes Garry so successful in sales is that he is 110% genuine. He genuinely loves people. He genuinely loves to serve his clients. And he is genuinely passionate about the product he sells. This combination makes Garry unique because most salespeople are not genuine, and they are not genuinely passionate about what they are selling.

Right out of college Garry got in the pharmaceutical business. And 28 years later Garry is still in the pharmaceutical business. He won the “rookie of the year award” at his very first pharmaceutical sales job back in 1993 and he has won the President’s award for top salesperson just about every year thereafter – working for some of he largest and most successful pharmaceutical companies in the world.

About ten years ago his company made the biggest mistake. They promoted my buddy from a sales representative to a sales manager. Garry went from sales to management. And the results were bone chilling.

The mistake most companies make is they think great salespeople can become great managers.

Garry nearly lost his job as a district manager. He was a terrible manager. And he was miserable managing others.

Sound familiar? Have you ever promoted someone in your company thinking that because they excelled in X, they would be successful in Y?  Most salespeople don’t make good managers. And most managers don’t make good salespeople.

Garry went back into sales. And a year later he was back on top being the most successful pharmaceutical salesperson in his company.

Heart-led leaders understand and value the importance of investing in and growing their managers and leaders. They understand people work for people, not organizations and companies.

So, the next time one of your key people in your organization leaves, don’t believe the “high road” reasons they gave you for their departure. Believe this – they left your organization because of a person. Perhaps their manager. Perhaps their boss. Perhaps a board member. Or perhaps because of you.  Bone chilling.