You can take leadership survey upon leadership survey and you can be competent in many ways, but if you can’t convey to others that you have serious interest in them you’re likely to be tripped up by the leadership Achilles’ heel.
You have to transcend hollow tokenism and really reach out.
Nothing is worse than being dismissed by someone because they think you are self-absorbed and don’t give a damn. It creates animosity in the office and it’s a hard feeling to change.
To maintain interest in others in an office environment or on a virtual international team you can avoid the leadership Achilles’ heel by paying mind to the following steps:
1. Initiate Conversations: Don’t wait for people to come to talk to you. Take the time to find an item of conversation that is not only interesting to you but also to the other person. When it comes to opinions, ask for input and engage in friendly debate.
2. Be Thoughtful When Questioning: Leaders and managers must recognize that certain conversations and questions are off-limits. However, it shouldn’t stop leaders from asking their team about their well being with regard to their career and their hesitations. If you close yourself off completely, you run the risk of never showing a real interest in others. Too many questions can be off-putting.
3. Don’t Look at Your Watch: Not everyone is an expert conversationalist with an arsenal of witty anecdotes. But everyone has a story to tell. Listen, don’t yawn. Maybe you’ll learn something. You’ll certainly show that you’re interested.
4. Be Interested (Even When You’re Not): People will come to you with problems, new ideas, and complaints that make the prospect of watching grass grow seem exciting. Office life will produce dull discussions, but it’s your job to be interested. If you think that too much time is being wasted, suggest shorter meetings or more to the point memos, but always maintain a healthy enthusiasm. If someone nodded off during one of your presentations, how would you take it?
5. Enjoy the Conversation: Conversations have to end. You have meetings and things to do, but once and a while let the conversation run its natural course before checking your watch and running off. It shows that you care and that you are enjoying yourself. If you make the time to idly chat with someone, they’ll take the time to do a better job.
6. Continue the Conversation: Conversations are like baseball games. They can go on for hours and last for days. Your job is to not forget the score. Don’t lose the thread of conversations. If you can’t remember what you were talking about it means you probably weren’t listening and were just waiting to speak. If it helps, make notes.
7. Shoulder the Sacrifice: Don’t be reluctant to help out in small ways here and there. It shows that you care and you have time for other people. If you never extend small favors to others, don’t expect them to think you care.
8. Show Your Vulnerability: Humans make mistakes. Egotistical humans don’t readily admit their mistakes. Be approachable and the first to point out your own errors. You’ll be easier to talk and relate to.