I am a baseball fan. I'm not a Yankees fan. I am a Derek Jeter fan ... because (in my opinion) he conducts himself with humility and integrity and is a good example of leadership. Because of the MLB All-Star game being in my city this week, I had a chance to hear a few interviews with this guy, and I was impressed. The quote that resonated most with me was "In order to lead someone, you have to get to know them." This came in response to a question he had received about his success as a leader.
This simple quote screams connection and relationship. I work with many successful leaders who understand that leadership means building and sustaining relationships. I work with others who say they don't have time to spend with the people. REALLY? Then, don't be surprised when people do not choose to follow you when they get the chance. Leadership is complex in many ways, and I see many leaders try to simplify it by treating everyone the same - the same style of communication, the same approach to motivation, the same way of rewarding and recognizing good work, the same way of providing feedback and direction. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY! It may seem faster to write one email or have one incentive program or one template for performance reviews, but it isn't. The time you spend up front getting to know the person you are dealing with it pays INTEREST on the investment later on. Everything becomes easier and faster when you understand the individual.
I have worked with hundreds of leaders (work, church, community, parents) over the last 20 years and the really good ones spend time with the people. They ask questions - They listen - They appreciate the differences - They make people feel as if they care about them. It's not an easy thing to keep one eye on the WHOLE and the other eye on the INDIVIDUAL, but I encourage you to take the challenge.
Thank-you, Derek Jeter, for reminding me of something so simple, yet powerful this week. You make leadership look easy, Captain!