Every time you talk to someone on your team it is an opportunity. Leadership happens at that moment.
Leadership also happens when you’re not there. That’s the scary part.
We are increasingly leaving associates alone to do their work. They are sometimes located all over the world.
The majority of an associate’s time is spent away from their leader.
How about if we treat the time we do get to spend with a team member as special time? Perhaps we should go a bit overboard and say this time is sacred.
We sell a big ticket item to big companies. For us just getting a real interaction with a potential customer is a huge deal. If we blow it we may not recover. Paying attention to both style and substance at a very detailed level is necessary.
Think for a moment about the mode you’re in when a big customer is visiting your office or whatever your equivalent is. You have that performance buzz don’t you? You prepare. You pay attention to the little details. You have a desired outcome. You prepare contingencies. You gauge your performance.
Do you have the same attention to detail for a staff meeting? How about a casual one-on-one meeting with a team member?
Treat every interaction with a member of your team with the same attention as a meeting with a big customer.
The difference between a customer interaction and an associate interaction is that you can and must go deeper.
In a customer situation while we are building a relationship of course, the nature of the interaction is transactional.
Associate interactions should transcend the transactional.
It’s easy to talk about how someone is doing on an upcoming deadline, customer service complaints, whether or not we’ll make the monthly numbers. Transactional stuff.
Is that the only interaction you have with some people? Is that leadership?
Since our interactions are fewer because of today’s logistics. Every one of our interactions must count.
Therefore, there can’t be anything that falls into the “It goes without saying” category.
Assumptions and perceptions occur between people who live together. This phenomenon is amplified when we interact only occasionally.
I’ve regularly had executives ask for my help with a member of their team. It goes like this: The executive tells me they really care about a member of their team. They are proud of their accomplishments. But, something is off.
When I meet with the associate they say something like, “My boss doesn’t appreciate me.”
You see, the executive felt so strongly about the associate that they felt it went without saying. The reality is that the 95% of the time the associate is not around the leader there are real life things occurring that erode that feeling of appreciation.
Saying what needs to be said goes both ways – positive and negative. The point is to not take anything for granted.
We’ve focused on individual interactions here. Perhaps in a future message we’ll discuss the other connective fibers you can build in to support the most important relationships you have as a leader.
Losing your best team member because they didn’t know how much you appreciated them, or surprising someone with negative feedback in their annual review isn’t leadership.
Just Say It!
To do this week: Evaluate your personal interactions this week. How are you treating each opportunity? Need to make any shifts? Did you come up with any ways to enhance these interaction opportunities?
Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.