Brattleboro, Vermont sits on the Connecticut River. Recently, I ate lunch in a Brattleboro restaurant that sits right on the river. It’s a pretty view. You can walk across the bridge to cross from Vermont into New Hampshire or simply enjoy the view from the deck. My lunch was great and the view was nice, even in the rain. It was a great spot. And after a tough week, it was relaxing. And energizing. The fall colors were beautiful, the running river mesmerizing. The falling rain added a soothing touch. I left with more in my tank than I had when I arrived. I was ready to go climb Mt. Everest. To conquer the world. In sum, my visit to Brattleboro, Vermont energized me.
Great leaders also know how to energize. They know their teams and the people that make up those teams. They know what to say to each person. They know what behavior will make a difference. They realize that individuals need to be energized. All of us can use a little extra fuel in our tank.
And while each individual is uniquely created and nourished (nature and nurture), there are some things that are generally effective in energizing all of us. They may be tailored for an individual, but they are still generally effective.
Here are a few:
- Names. People like others to know their name. Take the time to know the names of those on your team. If you don’t know, find out.
- Verbal recognition. Make it personal, sincere, immediate, and specific. Depending on the individual, you have to choose between a public vs. private setting.
- Familiarity. Get to know the other person. Ask about their family, their kids, their hobbies.
- Service. Do something for them. Remove an obstacle. Spend time with them. Assist with a project. Reduce an administrative burden.
- Listen. Really listen. Empathize. Try to view the situation from their point of view. Don’t try to solve the problem. Listen.
- Follow-up. Based on your interaction with them, follow-up. It shows you care. Develop a reputation for follow-through. It energizes another when you listen to a problem and later follow-up (either with an answer or see what progress they’ve made).
Will you allow me to share a couple of examples?
Verbal recognition: Have you heard that Mark Twain said that a person could live on a compliment for a month? I love it. “Joshua” came to my office early this last week and asked if I had a minute. “Of course,” I told him. Josh came in and gave me a compliment. I won’t go into all the details, but he was specific, sincere, personal, and timely. He shared how something I’d done positively impacted him. He took the time to provide verbal recognition. He didn’t mind that I was a “boss.” He took a chance that I wouldn’t view his visit as an “interruption.” And I was blown away. His comments resonated with me. They humbled me. And they energized me in a very powerful way. I might live off his compliment for two months!
Follow-Up: Yesterday I had a conversation with “Karen.” It was simple. Quick. We didn’t discuss politics, world hunger, or global warming. She shared a small problem. It was minor, like sand in your shoe. Today, I sought her out. I gave her a couple options to consider that would help remove the sand. She teared up. I asked if she was okay. “Yes,” she said. But no one ever follows up. You see Karen’s experience has been that people say they care, but they don’t. Her experience has been that people don’t really listen. She didn’t expect to see me. She didn’t expect for me to remember. She didn’t truly believe that I cared. She came away from our interaction energized. I did too.
These may seem like trivial examples. But they’re not. You can do them. So can I. The two examples above are simple, easy, and straightforward. In one case, I was on the receiving end. I was energized. And I’m still feeding off the compliment. In the other case, I was on the giving end. I energized another. And in turn, I was energized.
You don’t have to be perfect to energize another. Be consistent. Put others first. Don’t mind who gets the credit. Remove obstacles. Listen. Learn the names of others. Praise others. Get to know your team. Serve. Follow-up. Listen. Aren’t these the basics of Leadership 101? Of course they are. They’re not hard to do or difficult to understand. Let’s go do them. Let’s go energize others!
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
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