The Science of Leadership

Advice from the IICRC experts on keeping your best employees on board

The Science of Leadership


Why can’t I find good people? They just don’t want to work! I feel like a babysitter. They make dumb mistakes, come in late, and bring their personal drama to work. When I do find a good employee and train that person, I always end up losing him to a competitor!

Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. The No. 1 issue successful business owners typically express is difficulty attracting and keeping good employees. I have been in the cleaning and restoration industry for more than 25 years as an owner, trainer, coach, and consultant. I have seen a lot of technicians. Some become excellent employees, creating a great career for themselves and greater profits for the company.

These superstars are the keepers, the kind of long-term employees that help grow the company.

Others seem to start out great but end up failing in the company mission. They may have personal issues, conflict with leadership, or face other problems that prevent them from carrying out their responsibilities. These employees usually don’t last very long. They either get fired or quit.

There are also the employees that seem to do just well enough to avoid getting fired. Lacking motivation, they need constant reminding, prodding, and the occasional reprimand just to keep them pointed in the right direction. This leads to frustration for you, fellow employees, and customers. Mediocrity becomes the norm. It is with this group that you may find your greatest opportunities as a business owner.

By all accounts, these are good people. They don’t steal from you or your customers. They come to work ready to perform. They wear the company uniform. They do their job—maybe not exactly the way you want all the time, but they do it. You may find yourself wondering, “Where is their drive? Why don’t they take some initiative? Why don’t they go the extra mile? Why aren’t they more like me?”

The truth is they are ordinary people. There is nothing wrong with that. Ordinary is normal. Most people are content working for a living, collecting a paycheck, and living an ordinary life. They are motivated by needs and wants. As long as the job provides most of their needs and some of their wants, they will be content.

You cannot effectively motivate people beyond that. If you try, you will create frustration for both yourself and the employee. But you can inspire them.

Motivation vs. Inspiration

Motivation comes from outside; inspiration comes from within. Motivation comes from a desire to avoid pain or move toward gain. Inspiration comes from a desire to grow, build, and improve.

Interestingly, the word inspire also means to inhale. Just like we physically breathe in whatever is in the atmosphere, your employees will be inspired by the atmosphere, culture, or environment that you create in your company. What are your people breathing in? Criticism, negativity, fear, and frustration? Or positivity, constructive feedback, and opportunity?

Be honest. When you meet with your people, is it mostly to complain, find fault, and make rules? Or do you celebrate the wins, praise performance, and share the bigger vision? Do you help your people dream? Do you help them create and attain worthy goals? Do you help them to see how their success and the success of the organization intertwine with one another?

The Truth

Here’s a hard fact that you may not like: Most long-term employee problems are really the result of leadership problems. Sure, you get a bad apple from time to time, but if it keeps happening over and over, look in the mirror—the problem may be looking back at you.

Effective leaders inspire people to do their best without constant supervision. Leaders make the company mission crystal clear in addition to how the employee fits within that mission. Effective leaders develop followers into leaders.

The best leaders are humble and leave their ego at the door. They put their people first. They invest time and money in training and employee development. Effective leaders grow their people and their people grow the company.

The Solution

So now what? How can you attract and hire good people? They are all around you. Notice I used the word attract. Create the kind of place where people love to work.

Employees don’t leave companies to work for other companies. People leave people to work with other people. Why? Because they believe that they will be better off. It’s that simple. Your job as a leader is to create an environment that attracts good people and once inside, they don’t want to leave. They should feel that they are better off with you than anywhere else.


The very best people tend to work for the best companies. Like diamonds, they are a precious resource that you may have to polish before you can see the full potential value. Developing yourself as an effective leader is the best way to develop your people.




Posted On July 17, 2019

Bruce DeLoatch

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lead RRP instructor

Bruce DeLoatch has been in the cleaning and restoration industry for 24 years. He is IICRC Triple Master Certified, an IICRC-approved instructor, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lead RRP instructor, and a Behavioral Studies-Accredited Trainer. He can be reached at

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