Good leaders know that a business is just an entity. They also know it’s the people who give substance to that entity. People matter to them. Thus, getting to know their people on a deeper level is something they focus on. Why? Because they recognize connections in the workplace make a difference.
Connections are the basis for developing trust, inclusion and community with your team and others throughout the organization. So how do you get to know and understand the people you serve?
It starts with holding steadfast to three basic tenets rooted in human needs.
- You recognize the each person wants to know he / she matters.
- You acknowledge the need to belong is powerful.
- You understand that people are wired for community.
Firmly planted in those three tenets, you can tap into a genuine interest in people and begin the process of getting to know them more sincerely. The more you learn, the more you will appreciate the diversity on your team. And you will understand why “one size fits all” leadership does not work well.
The more you appreciate the diversity, the more you will leverage your team members for their strengths and with their motivators. You will come to value their uniqueness’s and want to capitalize on how to best bring forth their best. By uncovering synergies and complements among your team members, you lead in a different way with regards to building trust, inclusion and community.
Here are a few questions to help with getting to know your people or assessing how well you know them already.
Getting to Know the Personal Basics
- What do they consider their strengths?
- What values would they say are at the core of who they are?
- What do they stand for?
- Are they introverts or extroverts?
- When are their birthdays?
Getting to Know the Personal Life Basics
- Spouse? Partner? Children? Parents? In-laws? Pets?
- What community activities are important to them?
- Are there religious or cultural practices that they practice?
- What hobbies do they have?
- What they do outside of work? On vacations?
Getting to Know the Professional Basics
- What are their professional backgrounds and experiences?
- How do they find meaning in their work?
- What motivates them?
- What leadership styles and strengths do they employ?
- What are their short-term / long-term goals and career aspirations?
Get curious and see what you discover. Notice if your assumptions about your people change. Catch yourself thinking, “I had no idea.” Spot news ways to engage and include. See if you change and grow as a leader.