"The speed of the boss is the speed of the team." Lee Iacocca
The more research shows its level of impact on employee engagement, productivity, sales, and customer satisfaction, the more the business world has identified leadership as a high valued skillset worthy of specialized training and development.
The funny thing is that leadership is nothing more than a relationship. It’s all about connecting and communicating with people. But when so many of us struggle to connect and communicate effectively in our personal lives, it’s no surprise that specialized training is necessary to overcome this struggle in our professional lives- especially when results are on the line.
I was fortunate to have received top corporate leadership training from one of the nation’s leading luxury fashion retailers, Bloomingdale’s. In addition to formal training, I spent my career bouncing around between departments and locations. Change was part of the job, and it wasn’t long before I developed my own checklist for winning over a team. I eventually applied this approach when I took over my family’s 30-year-old business, Nick Felicione Pest Control. The success of that transition only validated this strategy.
1) People fear change- acknowledge this.
Even though you may be the most qualified, with the best intentions, their reservations about your capabilities translate into fear about how this change will affect them directly and their job. Don't take it personal. People naturally fear change, especially a change in leadership. The sooner you accept this as human instinct, and empathize with the emotion, the better off and more successful you will be.
2) Take the time to genuinely connect with the team.
People cannot receive new information unless they are open to receiving it. Therefore, before you can communicate strategies and vision, you must first connect with your team in order to open the lines of communication. Connecting with new people is a process that can’t be rushed- it takes time for people to get to know and like you. Yes, it’s important for your team to like you. Just as people are more likely to do business with someone they know, like, and trust, people are more likely to work hard for someone they know, like and trust.
3) Be willing to be human.
For authentic connection to build, you must be willing to be vulnerable. As I transitioned throughout my career, I felt all sorts of emotions, as each transition would have a significant impact on my career, reputation, and ultimately my future. With each new team, I shared my own emotions about the transition because they were relatable -we have all felt nervous, anxious, excited, etc. at one point or another. Furthermore, candidly sharing what the success of the business would mean to me, allowed us to bond. People want to be part of something meaningful and they need to know that, individually, they can make a difference.
4) We are so much more than our job- embrace this.
It’s important to remember that we are multifaceted and juggle family life, hobbies,interests, etc. The more of yourself you share with your team, the more commonalities you will find and the faster and stronger the connection will be. I’ve always prioritized socializing with my team in order to facilitate this. The conversations shared during a quick coffee break, over lunch, or at a company party can sometimes have a stronger impact than a performance review. The more you learn about your team as humans, the better you will be at identifying their motivators and limiting beliefs, which will allow you to implement more effective performance management strategies in the workplace.
From fashion to pest control, this strategy has overcome generational, racial, gender, and tenure gaps, allowing me to consistently lead teams to double digit sales and profit increases. The road to success will have it's challenges, but always remember, in order to become a successful leader, you must first become a respected member.