I recently wrote about the differences between leaders and managers, but since then I have been thinking more about the type of people we interact with, rather than the role itself.
Whether you are a member of a team, a manager, team leader or any other role in an organisation, is the way you act having a positive or negative influence on those around you? Over the years, I have been lucky enough to work with a variety of different people in many organisations across the globe, some huge companies of thousands of employees and some small local organisations with less than two dozen employees. What stands out in all of them is how some people influence their colleagues positively and others manage to bring the mood down immediately.
Is that important? As Phineas from Phineas & Ferb would say, “Yes, Yes it is”. I have worked with some people, at varying levels of hierarchical influence, who have made people glad to be there because they always have a cheerful demeanour, they are happy to help anybody out with any task, and when they aren’t around, they are missed by the teams. Others start to moan about something as soon as they walk through the door, whether it is the traffic, politicians, how much they ache from the gym, their partner or anything else that pops into their heads. We all have moments where something winds us up and we want to vent, but if it is all the time, it brings people down.
So what should you do to make sure you influences people positively? My personal recommendations are:
- Be aware. I’m not suggesting you take up yoga on a mountain top, but be aware of how you sound and come across. Are you complaining too much? Are you the negative one whenever there is a team meeting or announcement? Take a breath before opening your mouth; try to be more positive in your comments
- Be positive. If anybody is positive all of the time, suggest random drug tests at your place of work. It’s not humanly possible without some kind of assistance. But you can try and find the opportunities in the challenges or difficult situations you discover. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
- Be empathetic. Try to understand what others might be feeling. Listen – really listen – to what they are saying and try to see things from their perspective.
- Show humility. If you don’t know something, say you don’t. If you know who knows more, let others know. Encourage others to get involved and give them the credit. Don’t be too senior to get your hands dirty and do tasks perceived to be menial.
- Be professional. Small actions can make all the difference here. Get to meetings on time; dress appropriately. You don’t need to wear a suit, but clothes that fit and are clean is a good start (brightly patterned and coloured lycra active-wear is probably not appropriate for any position other than spin class teacher!); communicate appropriately; be reliable and show integrity.
All of the above are key to creating a positive vibe in the workplace. Whether your day is turning up, doing your job and going home, leading people through organisational change, running a company or looking after children at home, you need to display positive attributes to ensure that you are a good role model. Empathy is, as I have hinted at previously, a key skill. However it seems to be lacking in many people. So can I ask that if ALL you take away from this post, is that you will focus on being more empathetic? That will help you become the right kind of role model that many people need.
If you feel you or your colleagues would like assistance with anything mentioned, please do get in touch. I can help.