I have spent my almost my entire working life either managing and leading staff, on the way to managing staff, or talking about managing and leading staff with other managers. For years, I have watched people lead and manage staff. I have looked at the best and I’ve looked at some of the worst.
Needless to say, over those years I’ve had a chance to look at management from a lot of perspectives. Some of those points of view have been good. Some of them have been not so good. We know why some staff don’t produce at the level we expect. We know why. But one of the things that we never discuss or we rarely discuss is the value and importance of human connection. Relationships.
James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships. Everyone reading this article has been affected by their managers.
A Manager in a corporate firm once said to me, “They don’t pay me to like the staff. They pay me to get results from them. The employees should produce. I should tell them what to do, they should do it. Case closed.”
Well, I said to her,
“You know, people don’t go the extra mile for people they don’t like.”
She said, “That’s just a bunch of hooey”
And I said to her, “Well, your year is going to be long and arduous, dear.”
Needless to say, it was.
Some people think that you can either have it in you to build a relationship, or you don’t. I think Stephen Covey had the right idea. He said you ought to just throw in a few simple things, like seeking first to understand, as opposed to being understood. Simple things, like apologizing. Tell a staff person you’re sorry, and they might go into shock.
I showed several staff members how we could use LinkedIn to locate candidates. I’m not real good with LinkedIn, but I was working on it. That evening I was researching LinkedIn, and I discovered that I’d taught everything wrong. So I came back next day and I said, “Look, I need to apologize. Everything I taught you about LinkedIn was wrong. I’m so sorry.” My recruiters replied “That’s okay, Daryl. You were so excited, we just let you go.”
I have had teams of staff that were very low producers, so undertrained and raw, that I would grind my teeth at night. I wondered, “How am I going to take this group, in 3 months, from where they are to where they need to be? And it was difficult, it was awfully hard. How do I raise the self-esteem of a staff person and his ability to produce at the same time?
Can we stand to have a closer connection to your team? Absolutely. Will you like all your staff? Of course not.
So managers become great actors and great actresses, and we come to work when we don’t feel like it, and we’re listening to policy that doesn’t make sense, and we manage anyway.
We lead anyway, because that’s what we do.
Leading and inspiring your team should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had staff who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think?
Who had a champion? Every person we lead deserves a champion, a manager who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.
Is this job tough? You bet.
But it is not impossible. We can do this. We’re leaders. We’re born to make a difference.