Having worked with and for a great number of leaders over the years, it has been amazing to observe the different leadership philosophies and approaches that leaders have adopted in order to grow their teams and to develop their leadership. Whilst many leaders start out with the greatest of intentions to be strong and inspiring leaders, some become overwhelmed by the lack of attention they receive compared to their people – many of them have been so used to being the centre of attention & being in the limelight within their business as individual contributors, that when they make the transition to leader, they do anything to keep themselves in the limelight, including de-positioning their people, albeit sometimes unintentionally. Many of them believe that to keep themselves at the front, they must be interesting, where really what they need to focus on is being interested – interested in their people.
As John Maxwell says ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’. Caring is about being interested. As a leader, how do you become interested and maintain your interest, rather than focussing on being interesting? Here are some key principles to help you :
- Be genuinely curious about your people – make a definitive conscious effort to get to know your people, and what makes them tick. Find out when their birthday is and be sure to record it in your calendar. What is the name of their partner? If they have children, find out their names and birthdays. What hobbies do they love? What is their favourite sport and sporting team? Where do they enjoy going away on holidays? What are their favourite pastimes? Once you have gathered this information, be sure to regularly ask your people about them, and be genuinely interested – you will be amazed at the response you receive.
- Ask them what is important to them – what do they believe in, and in relation to their career and their position, what is important to them? What do they value in their role, and what are their core career values? When you are able to understand your people’s core values, you gain an insight into how they like to function and how they enjoy being lead and rewarded. And you can therefore adjust your leadership approach accordingly to hit these important values. Do this consistently, and your people will crawl over broken glass to achieve.
- Give them responsibility & allow them to make mistakes – great leaders build team cultures that are underpinned by accountability and responsibility. They know that in order to grow, develop and achieve, teams must take calculated risks, and this can be achieved by giving the team responsibility and encouraging them to challenge the status quo, generate a level of autonomy and develop their decision making capabilities, all the while knowing that the leader is taking a keen interest in their progress and development, but will not necessarily ‘save them’ from a mistake.
- Implement random acts of kindness and recognition – constantly seek opportunities to edify and reward patterns of behaviour and actions that build the team and move it forward. ‘WOW’ the team and/or individuals within the team when they do something great, particularly when the action or behaviour exceeds the standards and benchmarks that have been established within the team. This will confirm for the team that you are genuinely interested in them and their pursuit of excellence, and with the recognition, they are highly likely to not only repeat the pattern of behaviour, they will seek to exceed it.
- Get out of the way! – understand that as a leader, you are there to serve your people; your people are not there to serve you! Rather than seeking the limelight for yourself, shine the light on them, create the space for them to perform, and step back and watch them shine. They will love you for it, and in the process, elevate you as a leader!
It is so important to remember that leadership carries with it such a large responsibility, and in order to grow your leadership, you must continue to develop your team. One of the most critical aspects of growing your team is to be genuinely interested in them and to really care about them, because when they know that you really care about them, they will do whatever it takes to perform for you. And guess what? Your Leadership will grow.
Here is to being interested, rather than interesting!!
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Darren is an Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator, Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.