A few years ago I attended a user conference for a software company and one of their keynote speakers was Dr. John Izzo. I was so enthralled with the story he told about the origin of the Starbucks’ frappuccino and his message of “Stepping Up” and personal responsibility that I attended another session he gave at that conference and started subscribing to his newsletters. He always has several nuggets of leadership wisdom that I love to share on social media sites, and he inspired a blog I posted awhile back on my company’s intranet site. So I thought I would expand upon that and share some thoughts on finding our own simple ways to lead.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
How exactly do we as managers and leaders, or even as parents, get people to open up and step up? Kids these days are tied to their electronic leashes – the iPhone and Playstation generation. Employees oftentimes want to do the work and go home. I have found myself challenged by both of these situations. I am going to share Dr. Izzo’s simple recipe for success, with my 2 cents added.
- First, never underestimate the power of saying “Thank you” and making your staff, peers, or kids feel appreciated. People want to feel valued and want to contribute to the greater good, and are more likely to speak up and contribute if they know you appreciate them and their ideas.
- Second, encourage people to share by using key phrases, such as “Tell me more,” “How would that work?” or “What would that change?” Get the conversation started to identify problems needing to be solved or areas needing improvement. Sometimes people need to be challenged or encouraged to contribute. And there are always problems needing to be solved.
- Next, give people your attention. Be present. If we want our employees or our kids to put their cell phones down and listen to us, we should extend the same courtesy to them. We have become a world connected 24X7 to our technology. But we need to find a way to disconnect briefly ourselves, to devote time and attention to connect with and relate to others, in order to engage them and encourage them to step up.
- Finally, seek a solution. Identifying the problems you choose to tackle may be half the battle, but fixing the problem gives you twice the satisfaction. And even better than finding a solution might be finding a solution together. Because after all, aren’t we all “Better Together“?
So the next time your employee stays late to work on a problem or your kid takes out the trash without being asked, make sure you thank them! And when they come to you for help, encourage them to share, be present, and perhaps even solve the problem together. We can all find ways to relate and foster meaningful interactions at home and at work.
Do you have any strategies to share that help you be a better leader at work or parent at home?