Great leaders know their people and what is happening in their lives.
I said this in front of a group of business leaders as one of the “7 Leadership Habits for an Engaged Team”. A response I got, is from one person while others nod their head in agreement – “I don’t want to hear their drama”. I get it, I’m not into drama either and that’s not what I am referring to.
So, how do you get to know people without the drama?
Lead by example. Share what you feel is appropriate and they will do the same. Share a bit about yourself and draw the line at sharing your own family drama (yes we all have it). In doing this, if someone crosses the line, gently apologize for their misfortune and end the conversation.
What you do want to lean about: their family, where they are from, do they have a spouse, kids and what they do for fun. Do they have hobbies? How do they spend time outside of work (I know its hard to believe, your people do have lives outside of work). You are gradually going to get this over many conversations. Don’t try to get it one sitting, they will feel interrogated and uncomfortable. You don’t want that.
Why should you care? By showing interest in them, they feel important, respected and cared for, they are more than just a cog in the machine. People have a tendency to respect those who show a genuine interest in the.
This is also beneficial for when you want to reward someone for an achievement, you can show it in a way that is meaningful to them, personalized. For example, if you want to thank them for working overtime to get a project done and they love knitting, maybe a gift certificate to a local knitting/yarn store.
Make you people feel appreciated and really get to know them beyond their name.
P.S. This also works great with clients.