This time of year is great for reflecting. As a leader, it’s important that you wind business down for the holidays and preserve some time for yourself to think and to recharge.
Maybe you’ll do that thinking while you’re looking at the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree after everyone else has gone to bed. Or when you’re watching the flames flicker on a log in the fireplace. These are ideal times to reflect on what you accomplished in the past 360-some days, and what you want to accomplish in the coming year.
Part of this thought process for leaders is to consider carefully how we are leading our teams and our people. What did we do right in 2014, and how do we want to build on that for 2015? What is the image of leadership that we want to project?
There are three primary levers that we use to gain influence. One is money; if we pay someone enough money, we can pretty much get them to do whatever we want. Another is intimidation, or force. Bearing down on people, or threatening them with firing, is like holding a gun to their heads. And to some extent, it can achieve results, particularly in a tight job market where people fear job loss more than anything else.
But the third lever is by far the most effective. That lever is respect. If the people on your team respect you as a leader – respect who you are, what you have accomplished, and the way you care about them as individuals – they will follow you loyally and enthusiastically.
So as you prepare mentally for the new year that will soon unfold before us, I encourage you to think about what you can do to increase the respect that you have among your team members. Focus on building better relationships, and focus especially on listening. The simple act of listening to the people on your team, hearing and valuing their opinions and their thoughts, is one of the most effective ways there is to enhance your respect.
It is also important that you always look for ways to show that believe in those who are on your team. Find those little “nuggets” with each of them that provide the opportunity for you to tap into, and demonstrate that you see something special in them. Find that special gift in each person that you want to influence, a gift that as a leader you foster in them.
The more you keep in mind these elements of building your rapport with your team, the more you will see their respect for you, and your influence on them, develop and grow.