There is an abundance of research on the lists of the top ten attributes companies are looking for in leadership be they internal, or coming from somewhere else. There is a lot of overlap on most of those attributes and many bodies of research try to encapsulate the more esoteric attributes with terms like Emotional Intelligence, strong interpersonal skills, sociable, team work and one of my favorites – creating social capital by creating strategic personal and professional relationships. (Bridgstock) I like that last one because it implies almost superhuman skills at being able to identify future leaders long before they have developed these skills. Impressive but really?
Not that I don’t know what they are trying to say. The core of it is that effective leaders build meaningful relationships. So if you want to make a difference in the lives of your team these are things you need to work at. You will find this a daunting task as many may have gone before you who looked like they were building relationships with their staff but were actually just politicians who were using people not advancing them. It does not take long for folks to develop pretty fine tuned BS meters because of their encounters with bosses like this.
So what do you need to do? You build a network of meaningful relationships by being open and available to anyone in your circle of influence who is open to you. Even more so, make yourself available to those who might not look like they are open or need help but actually do. In other words, be a noticer.
Best selling author Andy Andrews wrote a book entitled “The Noticer” in which he chronicles a series of lives impacted by one individual who had taken note of their situation and offered help and advice. Let’s be clear being a noticer is not about getting ahead, it is about helping others get ahead. That difference is in perspective and it is this approach that will truly see you come into the quality and type of leadership that will not only improve your leadership skills but will quite frankly be more satisfying. We are effective as leaders to the degree that we promote and advance our team. Again it is something you have to work at at first but it is worth it.
I recall early in my career taking note of one of my work colleagues who seemed to be withdrawing from the group and spending more and more time by herself. I am not sure why but I found that troubling and so one day I took the opportunity to sit down and talk with her about it. At first she was hesitant but when she realized that I was sincerely interested she eventually opened up about the issues she was facing, mostly personal but with the net result of causing her to question her career choice and effectiveness at work, with the team. In fact, she had quietly been contemplating quitting. It was a shocking revelation for a number of reasons but chief among them was that she was truly gifted and suited for her work and had the potential for a long meaningful career. I shared that perspective with her and over the course of the next few days she eventually came around to understanding how her personal issues had colored her perspective on her value at work. She committed to working on those issues and was now free of the guilt she was feeling about her contribution on the job. As far as I know she is still doing that work and is quite successful at it.
I did not think much about it at the time or afterward either. That is until I was moved into management and was given a leadership role in that group. It came as a bit of a surprise to me at the time but my boss told me that reports of my helping that colleague along with a few others had come back to him and that was the factor that tipped the scale in my favor when it came to deciding on who to select for that opening.
Be a noticer, take the time to get to know your team be there for them and help them succeed. I guarantee you that by being a noticer you will get a level of engagement and commitment from your team that others only dream about. Performance Leadership – Think About It.