A Guide for Positive Leadership Influence
Interactions with people are the most powerful opportunity that leaders have to make a great impact on others, although if our approach is wrong the impact may not always be positive. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions to ensure that your next visit has a positive influence on the people you meet.
Leave pen and papers, clipboards and notes in the office; You are there to interact with people, not paper. It is vital that you are able to look them in the eyes and to give them your full and undivided attention; not share your attention with a clipboard. The same applies to your cell phone and anything else that may distract your attention.
Allow plenty of time for your visit. If you don’t have time to spare, then don’t go out. Rushing your visit sends the message that your schedule is more important to you than actually meeting with them.
Go out with the intention and expectation of learning something new. Forget about inspecting stuff and making sure that rules are being complied with; you are there to meet people, to learn new things and to enjoy the pleasure of learning about the person as an individual. This is not tokenism – make sure you do learn something new about the work being done and something new about the person as an individual.
Remember that you are interacting with a competent adult and ensure that you remember that as a fellow human they are your equal. You should approach them as a normal adult who is skilled in their work and who can teach you about aspects of their job. If you talk down to them like a parent-child relationship then you will fail. Similarly if you approach the interaction like a master-slave or expert-idiot type relationship.
Listen to all they have to say; What they say, how they say it, their body language and what is left unsaid are all aspects of their message. Pay attention to their actions. All these can give you clues about the puzzle that is the individuals life.
Try and understand what things look like from their perspective and to understand what life feels like while standing in “their shoes”. This can only be achieved by inquisitive, open-type questions. Don’t ask stupid questions like “is safety important to you?” How do you really expect them to answer a question like that? The answer you will get is obvious and you will learn nothing.
When you see something wrong – suspend judgement i.e. don’t criticise or pass judgement. Ask them to explain how the situation makes sense to them. If they appear to be doing something contrary to the procedure, ask a question like “what made you choose to approach this task this way?” Obviously if something is patently unsafe then take action, however don’t freak out about trivialities.
Model the behaviour you would like to see being done and give the sort of treatment you would like to receive.
If the person shares something about their personal life then make sure you remember it and enquire about it next time you meet. Nothing sends a signal that they are important like that one, small gesture (as long as your caring is sincere).