Recently I was having breakfast at my hotel when I overheard a conversation between two hotel staff members. One person was telling a story to the other that went something like this…
“You know Sue at the front desk doesn’t really know me, but she took the time to give me a card. I just can’t believe it.”
Such a very simple gesture made a great positive impact on that new employee and it will continue to spread across the organization as the story is retold throughout the day. Sue may never know what impact she had on this young person. But, that’s the wonderful thing about leadership: it’s contagious! If we create a positive environment, it will spread and impact others in the organization. The same is true when someone creates a negative environment.
This great story became the inspiration for one of my Leadership Reflection emails that I routinely send out to my company’s leaders in an effort to keep the learnings of The Leadership Challenge alive. And I was able to make a direct connection to my company’s Declaration of Kaneka United that includes the following Corporate Ideals:
Tie to the Future | Tie to the World | Tie with Value | Tie for Innovation | Tie with People
In support of the last Ideal (Tie with People), we also include the following statement: We in the Kaneka Group believe that the wellspring of corporate growth resides in human resources and will continue to seek innovation as we cultivate and nurture our valued employees.
So, focusing on Tie with People, I posed the question, “How are YOU “nurturing” employees, especially those on your team or who you work with every day?” And I took the opportunity to remind our leaders that it is their responsibility to strengthen this very critical corporate ideal. In addition, I offered a few very simple suggestions that can be universally applied by all of us to engage our developing leaders in continuous practice and growth.
- Personally give a thank you note to someone who helped you recently. It is even more powerful if you can do it in front of your team.
- Show interest in your team members’ lives outside of work. Ask about their families or how they spent their weekend. Show that you generally care about them. You can start by sharing more information about yourself. Then others will naturally follow your lead.
- Share your experience and knowledge freely with others who can benefit from it. Do it in a friendly and supportive way.
Steve Skarke, a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, is president of The Kaneka Foundation and creator of Leading Elements™. As an “Organizational Engineer” Steve supports the development of internal and external clients through facilitation and coaching activities. A 30-year veteran in the manufacturing industry, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.