BACK in the Middle Ages, society was divided between the lords and the peasants.

The lords and their ladies lived in luxury, enjoyed fine foods and revelled in the arts and entertainment.

The peasants lived only to toil, expending their sweat for the enjoyment of their masters in exchange for the fundamentals of survival: food on the table, a roof to keep out the weather, and clothes to keep them warm and covered.

In the modern world, the good life is within reach of everyone who wants to pursue it.

The concept of lords and peasants, nobility and commoners has been jettisoned in favour of the concept that “all men are created equal” and are entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

That is why enlightened management no longer regards its workers as assets to be exploited.

It looks for ways to liberate them and help them in their pursuit of happiness.

Economist Abraham Maslow said that humans, after they have satisfied their basic needs, exert themselves toward higher aspirations. They look for “self-actualisation” — becoming all that they can be.

Inspire and listen

Enlightened management looks for ways to inspire employees to become all that they can be, knowing that such dedication to excellence is necessary to survive today’s competition.

Leaders do not gain respect by sitting in ivory towers and looking down on the work floor.

Enlightened management is accessible to employees, listening to their complaints and their suggestions.

Be honest

A good leader does not pretend to be infallible.

Observe high standards of personal conduct, but let your employees know that you are human.

Talk to them about your bad decisions as well as your good ones. When you blow it, grin and admit it.

Build self-esteem

If you expect peak performance from your employees, you must help them build and maintain self-esteem.

The elements of self-esteem are a sense of security, a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and a sense of personal competence.

Employees must know and be comfortable with who they are.

They must know their roles in the organisation, be confident that they can fulfil them and believe that what they are doing is important.

They must know how they fit into the work place and how the work place fits into their lives.

They must know and share the company’s vision and goals.

Help your employees become all that they can be, and they will help your organisation become all that it can be.