1. “They were trustworthy.”
Story: With those I have trusted I’ve felt freedom to express my feelings, discuss problems and solutions openly. When I found those I did not trust I felt hampered, isolated and unable to fix problems or even discuss them. Building trust is key to developing any relationship, and without it little can be achieved.
2. “They listened to me.”
Story: At the introduction of this leadership blog I referred to a leader I admired. I’ll refer to him as Harry. Harry did not think much of me when he became my boss. He was a manufacturing guy, and I was in sales. As the saying goes, “nary the two shall meet”. Harry was assigned to head Human Resources to fill the vacancy when the previous manager moved on. I had just been promoted to the HR job, and Harry looked upon me with “suspicion”. Initially I would participate in meetings with Harry giving little credence to what I was saying. It took some time for Harry to realize I did have important things to say, and when that happened, my confidence and importance increased considerably. It changed my world.
Then there are the managers who have “selective” hearing, and have difficulty dealing with reality. I think the reasons are varied, but when I hear these managers, and feel what it does to me I understand why so much mistrust and conflict exists in their organizations. Selective listening (only hearing what you want to hear) makes a leader ineffective. Build on your ability to listen honestly and openly.
3. “They cared.”
Story: Some of the people I worked for maintained a “rough” exterior, but on the inside they had a big heart. They wanted to protect themselves from being “exposed”, usually because of previous experiences. Harry was that kind of boss who, when it was needed, they stepped up, and did what needed to be done. Some bosses I’ve known never could figure this one out, unfortunately.
4. “My concerns weren’t trivial.”
Story: One boss of mine had a very assertive style, and liked attention. Put another way, he liked to be listened to. When I would ask him to close the door so we could talk his demeanor changed, and he allowed me the opportunity to talk openly about issues or concerns. Sometimes we would disagree, but he did give me the opportunity to speak without interruption (an excellent skill to have as a leader). Leaders recognize and effectively deal with concerns. Actions speak louder than words so it is important for leaders to remember that. Phoniness can be detected in an instant.
“He has the attention span of a lightning bolt.” Robert Redford
Next: “Basic Principles of Succeeding with People” personal stories (part two)