Granted, leaders gain visibility for their message by speaking at a major industry event, international conference, or even a local community affair. But just as with movies, games, and apps, leaders increase their popularity and influence to a tipping point when employees share their opinions of that leader with their colleagues.
That is, Robert interacts with leader Kimberly and comments on that experience to a friend—either negatively or positively. Most often, it’s not the leader’s policies, speeches, or plans that create the positive impression—but rather “the little things.”
Consider how often these “little things” become the fodder for comments about presidential candidates and why voters connect with them—or dislike them.
“The little things” include . . .
“I don’t remember names, but never forget a face.” “I’m not good with names.” These claims are serious setbacks for a leader who intends to have credibility with people. Knowing someone’s name opens the door to opening their mind. Trying to talk with someone and have an impact when you can’t even call their name is like sending mail addressed to “Dear Occupant.”
Sharing Their Space
Some leaders isolate themselves. They undervalue the importance of simply being with others—in the same hallways, cafeteria, conference rooms, entrance ways, elevators, parking lots. People like people who are like them—people who have the same experiences. Even shared physical spaces and experiences provide common ground that leads people to believe that they may have common values and beliefs with you as their leader.
Asking a Favor
Asking for a favor takes humility. (But make it easy.) Ask for directions, an explanation or opinion about something in their area of expertise, help to recall statistics someone shared in a meeting the prior week. Let them help you in any such simple way, and watch how pleased they become to assist. Everyone likes to feel smart and helpful.
Asking About Personal Interests
Is the person training for a marathon? Does the person collect antiques and visit trade fairs over the weekends? Does the person play in a jazz band on Friday evenings at a local restaurant? Asking questions or commenting on such interests before or after a meeting or at lunch builds a bridge of connection so that they’re ready to listen when you have more important topics to discuss with them.
Showing Concern for The Family
Remembering to ask about the health of an ill spouse, child, or aging parent says you are concerned with them as a person—not just someone to do your bidding on the job, project, or team. Or celebrate the successes of those family members who’re involved in sports, projects, or major career projects.
Lending a Hand With Menial Tasks
The typical employee has seen far too many governmental leaders act as if the citizenry should serve them. When someone who holds a position of authority actually serves another person—that is, lends a helping hand with a task in progress—people notice. The media even consider it a photo op when the president spends an hour serving turkey to the homeless at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Willingness to “pitch in” and help when there’s work to be done communicates humility, always an attractive character trait.
What’s the point? Leaders win followers one by one by doing “the little things” that build strong relationships. Then when they need trust to change hearts and minds or handle a crisis, they have the credibility, influence, and support to do so.