EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP is interacting with people every single day – whether working with them, managing them or influencing them – to make things happen.
Some leaders consider most of these interactions interruptions to be avoided. Rather they are chances to connect in positive ways that develop trust, strengthen communication and build employee and customer engagement. Positive relationships are built through micro-interactions – little things that add up to big things. Leadership is about relationships.
Here’s an example:
Lucille is the department head in accounting. While walking to her office she greets people along the way. Her comments are:
“Hey Joe, I hear we’ll get to see your project report later.” “Dave, how’s the new program working?” “Diane, great to see you back, I want to hear about your vacation.”
She addresses the person by name, asks a relevant question, shows a genuine interest and enjoys connecting with them. Total time investment in each interaction: Perhaps 30 seconds. Return on effort: Employee engagement, trust and commitment. Each interaction you have with others – boss, peers, staff, suppliers, the customer, etc. – is an opportunity to build or damage your relationship with them. Lucille is a builder. Are You?
Douglas Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, in his book TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections In the Smallest of Moments says, “every face-to-face conversation brings the opportunity to engage employee in their work and the company as well as promote your leadership:
Here are Three of His Rules
Rule #1. It’s what you think.
Not surprisingly, effective leaders strongly believe in the value of building relationships with others inside and out of their organization. Connecting with others is high on their priority list. How much effort are you making to connect with others?
Rule #2: It’s what you pay attention to.
Effective leaders make the time to get to know others, ask about their problems and acknowledge their ideas. Identifying shared interests, experiences and goals develops rapport and also builds long-term trust. Are you taking the time to really get to know your staff, co-workers, suppliers and customers?
Rule #3: It’s what you do.
Effective leaders build allies not enemies. They are approachable, have a knack to ‘tune in’ accurately to the needs of others and, most importantly, follow through. Do you build allies or enemies with those whom you need to inspire, influence, or do business with?
Smart Moves Tip:
For too long, people have thought becoming a good leader was about going business school and getting a MBA or reading the latest and greatest business books. Don’t get me wrong they are valuable ways to enhance your leadership.
What I’ve found in coaching hundreds of leaders is that effective leaders at all levels are highly effective in these hundreds of touchpoints every day. That’s where they have a chance to bring their leadership to life in personally relevant ways. Yes, leadership is a relationship business!