I have some pretty smart friends who will be sharing a slice of their leadership message on my blog. This week it is my friend Michael McGreevy Enjoy Michael’s insightful post! – Deb
Know, Be Known and Empower
Guest Post by Michael McGreevy
In this day and age, people are often prematurely identified and categorized by what they do for work. What is the first question people generally ask when they initially meet you? Aside from what is your name and talking about the weather, it’s typically this:
“What do you do?”
Essentially, what a person is asking is, “Who are you”?
If you’ve practiced answering this question, you may be able to effectively describe how you help people or how you make the world a better place through the work you do. If not, you provide a one-word answer identifying your occupation. Does that define who you are? After answering just 2 or 3 questions, can your identity be determined and categorized?
Does your job title aptly describe your childhood, your friendships, your years of struggle, joy and pain? Why is it so easy to use title and position to inform the identity of others? Getting to know someone below the surface is hard work. It can be awkward and potentially messy. Good leaders do it anyway. They understand everyone has a unique story and although a person may excel at a specific position within an organization, there is much more to their identity than their current work.
3 Ways to Improve Connectivity, Loyalty and Productivity
1. Learn the Stories of Those You Lead
If you know a person’s story, your ability to influence them will increase dramatically. Most leaders don’t take the time to dig deeper than the occasional “How was your weekend?” Inevitably, before the full response is heard, they are on to matters of business. Thinking that immediate action will result in increased productivity, they gloss over the small talk and get to the day’s agenda.
I had a boss that would ask me how my weekend was every Monday morning. It was obvious he didn’t really care about my answer. His fingers tapped his mouse as his other hand flipped through messages on his cell phone. His body language communicated to me that he had no interest in the answer. After hearing the same half-hearted question over and over, I gave up and simply answered “good.” I began to resent him for asking.
Your interest as a leader must be sincere and you must be willing to listen intently to the questions you ask. If you genuinely connect with and care for those you lead, your team will bleed for you. People want to be know, as a leader, it’s your job to create a culture of sincerity. Guess what happens when you take the time to get to know your team? They are more likely to work harder, be more productive and make you more money!
2. Share Your Story With the One’s You Lead
Being truly known by others creates connection and trust. Tell them about your family and your interests. Be honest and authentic. Tell them about the times you’ve messed up and the valuable lessons you’ve learned. You’re human, you’ve struggled and you’ve made mistakes. Being vulnerable with your team gives them permission to do the same. They will thrive if they have the freedom to fail. With the freedom to fail comes the courage to pursue greatness.
3. Look Beyond the Obvious Strengths
When a person excels at a specific task, resist the tendency to lock them into that position. Sometimes leaders will miss an opportunity to benefit from an additional valuable skill in an effort to keep a person working within their “job title/description”.
I was recently part of a team that hosted a men’s conference. My primary role was to tell my story as a speaker. I recognized a need for improved atmosphere in our presentation room. I took it upon myself to make improvements to the space with better lighting, music and seating. My leadership recognized a strength that I had outside of my primary role and allowed me to pursue it. I became “the go to guy” when it came to creating environments for future conferences. If my leadership limited me to my role as a speaker, I would’ve never had the opportunity to improve the conference and develop a new skill set.
Team members should be encouraged to step outside of their daily skill set to contribute to the over-all cause. If an issue comes up or a problem needs to be solved, encourage folks to work together to find solutions. The strengths of your team will become more clear as opportunities to step up are provided. Each person on your team possesses more than one strength, create opportunities to uncover these strengths.
We strive as leaders to create unique organizations yet we are quick to identify and categorize members of our team. The stories and true identities of your individual team members are what make your organization great. Celebrate each person’s uniqueness. It will help open the floodgates of creativity and make your business thrive. Know your team, be know by your team and create opportunities for your team to discover and utilize new strengths.
Michael McGreevy is a 48Days Certified Coach and founder of Be Real Men. Michael helps men uncover the gold within them so they can face fear and take massive action toward a life of passion and purpose. He and his wife Lydia are expecting their first child in January.