A Lot On Your Mind? You Still Need To Be Fully Present
Don’t Shrug, Atlas
It’s a big responsibility to be a leader. There are lots of jobs to do and many people who rely on you to do them. If you have a social following as many people do, they want to see you active and consistent. If you have an office under your employ, they want to see you at work and at your desk. Getting things right isn’t easy like 1,2,3. It may look like that to others however you’re balancing many spinning plates. They will keep spinning as long as you’re attentive to them. All your jobs are half of the plates, and your people are the other half. Being present with these people is how we can be attentive and keep their plate spinning. In other words, by being present with people we keep them motivated. What does this mean though? There are so many things to think about. We can narrow it down to a shortlist.
Show Some Respect
It’s easier said than done when you’re stressed and they ask you for the afternoon off. Or when they’ve not done the only thing you asked them to and they put another pile of work on your desk. There might be stresses and strains but you have to take them and present them with a calm and collected persona. Take your time, take a breath, and balance your thinking before responding. It only takes a second or two. Just hold up your hand or something if you want them to wait. Psychological safety is not a new-age concept for weaklings. No one likes verbal, emotional, or social abuse. It can easily happen in high-stress situations. You are not expected to take the sharp end of other people’s concerns when you are doing the best you can. So you need to put this into practice when dealing with those around you, as well.
Recommended reading: The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways to Influence Without Intimidation
Reward Network Building
It’s not usually on the contract that you’ll find great people to help the team. Sometimes they’re resource providers, sometimes they’re volunteers, and sometimes they’re just helpful services that make things better on a daily basis. Think of the cafe that sells the coffee and their recognition of your continual custom. All these networks and services are not necessarily on the books, they don’t have signatures on paper, but they make everything better. These people need to be recognised and given incentives to continue playing their part. It makes sense to reward people who make your day nicer, easier, and more efficient. The person who delivers your supplies is part of your team, they might work for someone else, and you might not know their name, but you owe them a sandwich and a cup of tea every time they stop.
Reward Problem Finders
You can’t solve the problem if you don’t know it’s there and if it’s a customer who finds it, you’re too late! Often we get so excited about our idea and proud of its ability to do the job that we fail to see big holes in the foundation. Competitors love to find these so we need to ensure our people are safe and willing to find them first. Yes, it hurts when our cleverness is picked apart by someone else but we needed to know. If it was allowed to go out into the wild full of holes, it would be eaten up and deposited on the dung heap. So when someone highlights an issue, that’s a good thing. You need to listen, respect what they say, value their input, and then decide on the best course of action. They might be wrong, they might be right.
Recommended reading: Collaborative Problem Solving: A Guide to Improving your Workplace
Remember Your Values
On autopilot, we don’t always think about the ethics of a situation. We are prone to respond to emotion and impulse without thinking. When we hold our values in mind as we work, it gives us that little space to think that we need. Everyone comes from a different background. Even small villages have different people in each house with different families. It’s important to bear in mind that the culture of the person and the culture of the team is compatible only when you’re mindful of the difference. You may feel comfortable using certain slang that other people feel is repulsive. It can work both ways, many people are repulsed by what they consider “posh talk”. It has to be taken into account when deciding how to communicate with those around you. Respect and Values go hand in hand, it’s important to stay calm and remember that other people have the right to feel safe and valued at all times.
Recommended reading: Public Values Leadership: Striving to Achieve Democratic Ideals