These extraordinary people—or “pillar people” as I
like to call them—are so amazing that they enable you to build and
grow a thriving business. I’m in a professional services firm. At the
end of the day, it’s a people business. Pillar people are critical in
organizations like my own. But I’ve seen pillar people in all types
of industries and company sizes.
(1) They are extremely dependable. You can count on them to get the
job done, whatever the job. They don’t whine. They don’t think any
job is beneath them. They realize the job is important to the success
of the company and they get busy.
(2) They are invested. They believe deeply in the company’s purpose
and mission. They show up every day with zeal and enthusiasm. Their
energy is contagious. I also find age doesn’t matter. I’ve worked
with 60-year-old colleagues who have more energy and passion than
(3) They lead. They are often the true leaders in a company. They may
not even have the job title, but they don’t let that stop them from
stepping up, being accountable and taking charge when it’s needed.
(4) They unleash discretionary effort. Engagement is never an issue.
In fact, they don’t even know what being disengaged looks or feels
like. Now, there are tough days. We all have them. But pillar people
find a way to manage themselves through the tough days and get
focused on being the best they can be.
(5) They are balanced. They work hard, but I find they have interests
beyond work. Whether it’s family, a social cause or creative passion,
they are well-rounded people. This helps them bring a sense of fun to
You would think that most leaders would be pretty focused on knowing
who their pillar people are and taking care of them. But in my
experience, these people are sometimes the most overlooked employees
in a company. Some managers simply treat them as work horses. They
keep piling on the work, knowing they will do it, with little
recognition or appreciation.
I find one of the tragic moments in a company is when a pillar person
decides to leave because they were ignored, over-worked or taken for
Please don’t be one of those leaders. Instead, take time to reflect
on the pillar people in your company. People so extraordinary that if
you lost them, your business would suffer.
Do you even know who your pillar people are? How are you treating
them? Are they being ignored? Do you find ways to acknowledge their
commitment and loyalty to you and the company?
Best look after the pillar people. Otherwise, they’ll leave and
you’ll have a lot of trouble finding someone to take their place.