“Captain, would you both like a coffee?” It’s a sunny Monday morning in Curacao. While most of the participants in our entertainment catamaran excursion are still withdrawing money from the ATM, there are still five people on the bus. Anke has already gone to the bathroom and I look around. Our captain of Mein Schiff 3 is sitting two rows behind me together with his wife, who is visiting. My gaze goes outside. “Starbucks” shines there in green letters.

Captain Per Hard looks at his wife when I ask him about the coffee and she nods in agreement. “I’ll come with you,” he says and gets up. As he stands, I hold out my hand and introduce myself, “By the way, I’m Norman, the motivational speaker.” A smile flashes over his face and he squeezes my hand. As we make our way through towards the Starbucks order spot, we strike up a conversation. “Do you only do these lectures for the guests?” the captain wants to know. “I also have a lecture planned for the crew, Captain. And wherever you need Anke and me; we’re here.” He thinks for a moment. “Could we do this for my bridge team too? But then we would have to do it on the bridge, because there are always three people working.” A smile covers my face. “We can definitely make it happen.” What an honor. And I’ve always wanted to go to the bridge. A few days later – one lecture turned into nine lectures and workshops, which we held in English for the bridge team around the captain.

During the days aboard we meet Captain Per very often and quickly find out that he knows exactly how important personality development is and what it does for people. That’s why he wants to use it for his team. Because too often managers focus on numbers, data and facts, but they often forget the human being behind the employee. Captain Per is an absolute philanthropist. He takes excellent care of the crew and guests, plays volleyball tournaments, takes part in the 90-minute spinning competition crew versus guests and crawls across the floor with the children in the kids’ club as a seal. Just a wonderful human being. He has recognized that the greatest good on board is the human being. And not the guest first, but the crew first. Because only when the crew is happy will they do their best to delight the guests even more.

What does that mean for you as a manager or entrepreneur? Put your employees at the forefront of what you do.

By putting the human being behind the employee first, business owners and leaders can create a positive and supportive work environment that provides long-term emotional benefits such as:

1. Improved Employee Engagement: When leaders focus on the needs and abilities of their employees, they feel valued and supported. This can lead to higher employee engagement, which has a positive impact on productivity, employee retention and ultimately the success of the company.

2. Better Work Environment: When leaders care about their employees and support their emotional health, they create a positive work environment in which employees feel comfortable. A good atmosphere in the team can help to improve cooperation and the working atmosphere and thus increase the quality and performance of work.

3. Increased Trust: When leaders care about and respect the people behind their employees, they can gain the trust of their employees. This can help improve communication and collaboration, thereby creating a positive work culture.

4. Improved Wellbeing: When leaders focus on the emotional needs of their employees, they can create an environment that promotes employee wellbeing. Greater employee satisfaction can have a positive impact on mental health, self-confidence, and job performance.

5. Increased employee motivation: By putting the people behind the employee first, managers can increase employee motivation. When employees feel that they are valued and that their work has a positive impact on the company, they will be more willing to perform at their best and contribute to the company.

Overall, entrepreneurs and leaders who focus on the human being behind their employee can create a positive work culture that leads to higher employee satisfaction, higher engagement and increased productivity in the long term.

The 35 days in the Caribbean showed me what modern leadership looks like and what it takes to achieve it. The will to put people in the foreground of all actions. Captain Per recognized this a long time ago and sets an example. Anke and I are very grateful that we have been able to support him and his team over the past few weeks. Because now the whole bridge wears blue glasses and that for the benefit of everyone on board.