“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” attributed to either Theodore Roosevelt, or one of my favs John Maxwell.
I’m not 100% sure who said it but I know with certainty this quote is true, and it was reinforced for me during my years commanding units in the Air Force. Command is about caring and serving; in the book Command by my old boss, then Colonel Jeff Smith, a commander is described as “teacher, counselor, rescuer, parent, mentor, confessor, judge and jury, executioner, cheerleader, coach, nudger, butt-kicker, hugger, social worker, lawyer, shrink, doctor, analyst, budgeteer, allowance giver, career planner, assignment getter, inspector, critiquer, scheduler, planner, shopper, social eventer, party thrower, and absolutely as often as possible— sacrificial lamb.”
I don’t think anything really compares to command in the civilian sector. For me, command was a labor of love for country and the people I had the honor and responsibility to lead.
While I was freed from the need to be liked early in my AF career (see last week’s blog), to be an effective commander, I found you have to really love and respect the people you are privileged to lead!
Sometimes that’s hard to do but it’s not something you can really fake. People know intuitively when you don’t care for them. Part of that is our ability to read faces, evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. Another contributing factor, according to author Shelia Heen, is that our real feelings frequently “leak” out via our tone of voice or our faces. Even though we might be trying to convey acceptance and respect, something in our tone or face might betray our true, negative feelings. Our true feelings might be revealed even through our patterns, kind of like a “tell” in poker when a player unconsciously changes his behavior in a way that can give clues to his assessment of his hand.
Trying to fake acceptance and respect toward the people you lead might have the added disadvantage of making you appear deceitful and even devious.
People know intuitively when you don’t care for them; acting like you do appears devious! Tweet this now!
So how do you show the people you lead the love that Gallup says will make your organization perform better?
Find Something to Love
Spending time with the folks on your team outside the workplace is a great way to know them and find the shared experiences or characteristics that will allow you to feel the love for them.
We all want to be seen and heard and know that who we are, what we say and what we do matters. As a leader, finding that who, what, and why for each individual team member can help you appreciate who they are.
Appreciate the Complementary
Do you have that person on your team who matches you in temperament, outlook and experience… the person with whom you see eye to eye … the team member whose ideas cause you to vehemently nod in agreement? Now think about the issues that create conflict on your team. Is there one issue the members of your team consistently butt heads over, or one person you consistently butt heads with?
The person you are not in agreement with might have a different perspective, alternative priorities on the way to a shared goal, or just strengths you don’t have. For example, the people in sales trying to close contracts might feel hampered by the folks in finance who are adamant over the details. Finance wants to ensure there is no ambiguity in a contract that is going to cost the company. BOTH teams want to close the deal.
Many teams are like ours…lots of people who can envision a future, less people who can execute toward that vision. The futuristic people might not even understand the “language” of execution and the people good at execution might chafe at hours-long “dreaming” sessions. Once we understood the differences, we could focus on what each member brought to the achievement of our shared goal.
A leader who can reframe differences as strengths and then see how another team member’s strength complements the leader’s and helps the team get closer to achieving success, is showing she cares.
“Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission” is one of those phases from my Air Force life I believe has applicability in the business world.
Do what it takes to “find the lovable” in your teammates and then don’t hesitate to show that love to your team. It will set the tone for your entire organization.
Something to think about:
Do you like the folks on your team?
Renita Alexander, Profit Pathway