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To Lead Them, Know Them
This post is a continuation of The Elements of Leadership series.
To effectively lead people, you have to know who they are.
I'm not talking about learning their names and positions. Where do they live? What's their spouses' and kids' names? Who are their favorite musicians and sports teams? These are the types of questions that begin to give an indication of what they value and who they really are.
Take the time to get to know the people you work with -- nothing lets people know you care about them as people, rather than as workers, than if you talk to them about things they care about.
I suggest you...
1. Start with who you primarily work with and build your way out
I've got 156 people in my company, and I'll never actually have a chance to talk on a personal level with most of them. However, I see my middle and senior supervisors often -- so rather than being overwhelmed with 156 people, I started with the 15--20 people that I work with. I know them well enough now, so I'm starting to move to out from there.
2. Talk to people who aren't in cliques
Every organization has people who aren't in the "in" crowd. Make sure you take the time to talk to them so that they know they're part of the team. Not only are you helping them, you're helping your organization because these people can become fiercely loyal and will work when everyone else is looking at the clock.
They will ride with you through the gates of hell, all because you took the time to ask them how their kids were doing. (Tweet this)
3. Use notecards to help you learn who they are
When I deployed, I made notecards that had the soldier's name on one side and relevant information on the back. I wanted to know their ages, birth dates, their hometowns, their civilian occupations, and their family information (spouse's name and occupation and kids' names and ages). That's a lot of information, but when I had downtime on missions or back in garrison, I'd start flipping through the notecards -- it took me about a month to do it. It definitely helped with camaraderie, and, if nothing else, they knew I cared enough to try.
Obviously, you may not need to know their civilian occupations if they work with you, but the rest is a pretty good start.
The next installment in this series is about defining your vision for your organization.