First a quote: “I’ve learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Recently, one of my coaching clients shared a customer service experience he had while traveling home from an international location. Like most international flights, they offered multiple levels of service. During the flight, he was going to receive a meal like those being offered to the passengers in the rows ahead of him, however that group was given an elegant menu from which to peruse while waiting for takeoff. When my client inquired about the menu, the flight attendant’s answer caused him to “feel” as though he was less important, less significant, or somehow inferior to those sitting in front of him, even though the meal itself was going to be similar. And, while intellectually he understood the answer and the reasons behind the answer, he was also aware of how the response made him feel.
Eureka, it was a powerful “ah-ha” moment for my client. He began to realize how important it is to pay attention to how people might feel about his approach to leadership, decision making and communication. He realized that while the facts, logic and rationale behind his decisions are important, how people feel about those decisions, and how those decisions are communicated, is equally important. And finally, he realized the importance of involving his team in decisions that affect them; when possible. When people are involved, it contributes to not only their investment in the decisions, but also their feelings of self-worth, significance and importance. This is what we mean when we speak of emotional intelligence.
It is my observation that most people, at least at a subconscious level, are listening to two different radio stations, sometimes simultaneously, one FM station and one AM station. Here they are:
• WII – FM Radio – What’s In It For me? Think about it, if you’re leading a structural reorganization, they’re asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” If you are going to roll out new products or services, it is only natural for them to wonder, “What’s in it for them? Will I have to learn new things” Will this be more work? Will I earn more money? How hard will this be?”
• HMFI – AM Radio – is the second station most human beings listen to on a frequent basis… this station is related to what my client became more aware of on his flight home. That station is: Help Me Feel Important About Myself. Understanding the logic, facts and rationale of a decision is only part of the equation. Helping people feel important, feel appreciated, feel involved, feel significant about who they are as people, and about their role, is also vitally important. This again is often a sign of significant emotional awareness. Emotional awareness, both about self and others, is the core of emotional intelligence.
Have you ever heard someone say something like: “I’m just a shipping clerk”; “I’m just a mom, or just a dad”; “I’m just a cashier”; I’m just a flight attendant”; or, “I’m just a (fill in your blank)?” I know I sure have. Through one lens, comments like these are reflective of genuine humility, through another lens however, they are reflective of human beings who don’t understand, or appreciate, the importance of their role, or value as human beings. These people just might be crying out for something most of us crave… a feeling of significance and importance in our own sphere of influence.
All people, all positions and all jobs are important. If you don’t think the role of shipping clerk is important, try going without one. Cashiers… they are the people who help your customers feel important and valued. And that flight attendant mentioned above, left a passenger feeling less important and less significant as an important paying customer.
Leaders help people feel important about what they do, and who they are.
Here is your “leadership development assignment” for this week: Find two people who might be struggling with their self-worth, confidence and/or importance. Then, find a meaningful way to let them know how important they are to you, your department and/or your company. Then, watch what happens! That’s it for this week, simple enough.
How will you lead differently, or better, this week?
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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