In a world that never stops changing, we need leaders that never stop learning. – Todd Adkins
At Southwest Michigan First, we believe in understanding how people are hardwired. What are the innate talents and strengths, what stimulates and energizes? Leadership can be difficult because not everyone wants or needs the same things. In order to be a great leader, you’ve got to figure out what makes each one of your team members tick. What makes them excited to come to work every day? And then you’ve got to meet those individual desires. That’s what leadership is: knowing who you lead.
Anyone can create a standard operating procedure for recognition and appreciation. It might involve specific measures to be met and a form that must be completed to nominate someone for an “employee of the month” type award. But that’s not true leadership, that’s administration. A true leader tailors to the needs of those he or she is leading, those who allow the leader to be in that position. Leadership is not an appointment, but rather earned through the trust and respect of your followers. They must allow you to lead them.
So how can you understand your team members? The true magic lies in showing the same intensity of appreciation or support for everyone but tailoring it to the specific need of the individual. It doesn’t mean throwing out common sense; it means throwing out the rule book. Rule books are created to maintain average, not preeminence. Throwing a rule book at your high performers too many times will cause them to leave the organization, leaving you with just the average and low performers, meaning you now get the average of that level of talent.
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When it comes to the idea of building amazing and engaged teams, leaders have to first know who they lead. It takes a lot of work and emotional energy, but it is worth it.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of the show This is Us, and there is a scene I’ve written about before, which illustrates this perfectly: Randall confronts his boss for sending pears as a condolence gift, even though he went into anaphylactic shock at a work function from consuming pears in the past. As leaders, we’ve got to know who eats what. As the leader, you have to know who you lead.
Question: How do you ensure you understand your team members? What can you do to connect with them individually?