We live in an age of the “free agent” workforce. This can present a real challenge in keeping great employees. For leaders, an often overlooked issue is building loyalty within the organization. I recently interviewed Paxton Farese, the founder of The Farese Group, which provides retirement and income distribution planning. The firm has built a regional reputation and now has offices in Ridgeland, Little Rock, and Baton Rouge. Farese noted, “Loyalty ranks at the top of my list in both business and my life.” He shared the distinction he sees between loyalty and honesty. He continued, “A person can be truthful and still not have your back in tough situations. When your team members experience a specific act of loyalty from their leader, it produces a bond that is almost impossible to penetrate.”
One of the ways that Farese builds loyalty is focusing on good communication within his company. He emphasizes creating and cultivating a team atmosphere. Farese also believes in acknowledging the contributions of his team members. He said, “it is important that employees be recognized for the efforts and contributions made to their team and company. Farese noted that acknowledgement is craved by most, but unfortunately rarely received. He is careful to avoid letting acknowledgements and compliments become “watered down” by making sure they are given with proper thought and consideration. This kind of meaningful acknowledgement is rare for leaders and is missing in too many organizations. Dr. Gary Chapman, best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Dr. Paul White, a nationally recognized family and business coach, recently teamed up to write The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace to help leaders understand how we are encouraged in the workplace as well as how to best show appreciation to others. Their book provides the tools, resources, and information to help apply these concepts in a practical way in the workplace. Leaders like Farese understand this principle and show genuine appreciation to team members.
Farese also builds loyalty by emphasizing honesty and follow through. He shared, “If you expect others to follow you, being reliably true to your word is paramount.” He also believes that it is important to follow through on the commitments to those you lead. Very few people will follow someone they do not respect or trust. Farese emphasized, “Trust takes a lifetime to build and yet only a minute to lose it. Your reputation must precede you – In a good way. Guard it dearly.”
Farese’s team members also get the opportunity to see him lead by example. Farese said, “In my experience, leading by example is the best way to both enthuse and inspire people to reach their stated goals and expectations. I believe it is the responsibility of the leader to set the pace expected from each member of the team.”
Farese, who grew up in Germantown, Tenn., and Holly Springs graduated from the University of Mississippi. His focus, vision, and the ability to “think big” helped him from an early age to see a niche in the financial planning industry and to build a large practice around telecommunications and utility company retirees as well as general retirement planning. He now has a substantial team working with him to serve their clients. The Mississippi Business Journal took note of the growth of his firm, and named The Farese Group one of the State’s Top 40 Fastest Growing Companies in 2009. Farese also has a strong sense of community. In 2010, Farese accepted the Distinguished Community Support award from Mississippi Children’s Home Services on behalf of the team at The Farese Group. I am always encouraged by visionary entrepreneurs and leaders like Farese who are building reputations around the country for their expertise.