Just before Christmas, a high-potential leader asked my interest in mentoring her on the journey to becoming a more impactful leader. I get a fair number of these requests from current or emerging leaders and to date, have worked to accommodate them all. These relationships are mutually beneficial and valuable as I learn a great deal too.
I gladly accepted this one as well, and this past week, our first meeting took place.
At one point during our meeting, I was asked what I did to dramatically change the culture so fast (at the health center I lead). Without hesitation, I answered, “I made it about the people.”
I followed up her question with one of my own when I inquired why she had chosen me to mentor her on leadership. I will never forget her response, without hesitation, “You showed an interest in me.”
This took me back to the culture transformation at Johnson Health Center and making it about the people. The path to success for those who have excelled in their roles since my start there has been tied directly to their interest in the people they lead. I have done this with my executive and leadership teams, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
If you are going to become an impactful leader, you have to become interested in those that go to battle with and for you. Your interest in them will determine their interest in you and this translates into success of the organization.
Showing interest in people is not natural for everyone, and the busier we get the more difficult it can be. It is important to recognize this now because the changing workforce is starting to demand it.
Here are some things to remember if you have an interest in becoming more interested:
- Be present with every conversation – Don’t get distracted from the conversation, be it in person or over the phone. Listen and actively acknowledge what’s being communicated.
- Don’t look at your phone, computer screen, or the doorway behind the individual – when you do, this sends a clear message that something is more important than the person in front of you.
- Learn what is important to them – Ask about their aspirations and how you can help them achieve success along the way.
- Be aware of artificial empathy – People pick up on this very quickly and once you have been labeled in this category, you lose credibility as a leader.
- If you don’t have time, let them know – This establishes credibility because you are being honest. Reschedule when you do have a few minutes – then be present.
- Be genuine – in other words, be your own authentic self (If this is difficult for you, there is much more you will need to work on and I recommend you start with a course/coaching session on becoming emotionally intelligent.)
- Remember, they need you – Let’s face it, if someone has taken the time, energy, and potentially the courage to come to you with a question, concern, or idea, it means something to them. Treat it with the same attention and respect you expect in your leadership role.
Want to know if your people consider you an impactful leader? Just ask but know this, if you have not shown a high level of interest, don’t expect a completely interested response.
You don’t have to be the “most interesting person in the world” but you need to be the most interested leader in your space.
Stay impactful my friends!