As a leader, how well do you know your people? How well do you know their desires, values and dreams?
A leader must influence and empower his or her people. Influence and empowerment is more effective if the leader loves and relates to his or her people. Anybody who loves or relates to someone must know him or her as a whole person.
We hear a leader saying to his or her people, “ I’m only interested on what you do in the workplace. I don’t care what you are or on what you do outside the office.”
If the leader focuses only on the actions or activities of his or her people at the workplace, he or she tends to be judgmental or condemnatory.
Each one has his or her own story, history, behavior, attitudes and habits. If a leader knows how his or her people got where they are or who they are, he or she is less likely to condemn and more likely to understand and love them.
A leader also needs to know who his or her people can become so that he or she can help develop their career .
During my first assignment as a Postal Regional Director, I asked for the 201 files of my management staff and studied their personal data.
Later on, I realized that actual face to face interaction is more effective than studying the 201 files. I want to have an eye to eye contact with my staff.
I let some of the employees join with me during my inspection trips, at the restaurants, at the malls and other places. Through casual conversations, I came to know about their family, educational background, experiences and some of their stories. In these bonding, I listen more than talk because I want to know them as a whole person.
I don’t appreciate an employee who talk much of other people when we are together because I’m interested to know about him or her more than anybody else.
There was one time when an employee invited me to see a movie with her. I’m not really fond of seeing movies, but I joined with her to know her more. It was a great bonding, a very unforgettable one.
A leader must invest in the relationship in order to know people.
In his book, The Power Principle, Dr. Blaine Lee says:
“The better we know who they are, the better we can serve them and help them become what they are capable of becoming. We must pay a price to know them, but the potential rewards are immense. And when we love them, we can influence them in ways that may last their entire lives.”
Dr. Lee also suggests words to say to ourselves to check for knowledge of people:
Do I understand what they want?
Do I know them? How well?
Can I see the whole person?
Do I know this person outside of this situation or task?
Have I “done my homework” on them as well as on what I want them to do?
How will do I really see them?
Am I willing to pay the price to know them?