“Nothing comes from nothing.” – Lucretius (On the Nature of Things, 1st century B.C.)

As we said in yesterday’s message (“In Times Like This, Resist the Invitation to Gripe”), your boss needs a positive-minded, hard-working team to see his business through these tough times. That’s why, if it becomes necessary for him to lay off some of his key people, he may consider what YOUR best people think of you in order to help him decide if you will go or stay.

You’ll get good reviews if you’ve supported them and given them credit for their accomplishments.

I’m thinking of three executives I work with. Two of them are very supportive of their staffs — in my opinion, excessively so. The third is almost antagonistic to them. He sees them, or at least he speaks about them, in negative terms.

The first two enjoy the support and praise of their best employees. The third — well, not so.

I read termination reports and can see it there too. Managers who are loyal to their employees get that loyalty back.

I’m not saying that you should make it a goal to please your employees. I’m suggesting that you should treat them fairly. Praise them generously when they deserve it. Criticize them carefully and privately when they make mistakes.

Being a business leader is not about popularity. Some of your people will never like you no matter what you do or don’t do.

So don’t focus on pleasing them. Instead, focus on leadership. Understand your business’s goals and inspire your people to follow them. If you do that, your best people — the 20% to 30% who produce 70% to 80% of the progress — will support you.

Encourage your good people privately. Compliment them publicly. And recommend them to your superiors. And don’t worry that their praise will becloud your own accomplishments. If you are contributing, that will show. You’ll have the best of both worlds: the reputation of being a good boss and loyal, motivated performers.