This morning I flew from Seattle to Chicago for a speaking engagement. During the course of that trip, these three things happened:
- The 40-ish-year-old gentleman sitting behind me on the plane, while seemingly perfectly healthy in all other respects, was apparently unable to get into or out of his seat without the semi-violent assistance of the back of my seat.
- The woman immediately in front of me on the down escalator, upon stepping off said escalator, just stood there lost in thought—unaware, perhaps, that escalators, along with their riders, keep moving.
- A cluster of about 15 tourists decided that the middle of a busy airport concourse full of people trying to make tight connections was the ideal spot for an impromptu group meeting.
What do all three of these have in common?
A total unawareness that there are other people in the world.Tweet: Don’t be one of the clueless people that others hate! #leadership Click To Tweet
Look, I get it. We all suffer from temporary cluelessness now and then. But there are some people who seem to make unawareness of others a habit. That’s bad. And it’s even worse if these people happen to be in a leadership position.
Have you ever worked with someone like this? Someone who lives in their own world, without a thought as to how their actions might affect others? These are the people who:
- arrive at the meeting 20 minutes late and say, “What did I miss?” thus forcing everyone else to waste their time bringing the latecomer up to speed;
- on the day that a project is due, say, “Oh, right—I wasn’t able to get my part done because my cat got sick and I had to take him to the vet;”
- decide that the enclosed tube of an airplane is the ideal place to remove their shoes and socks so they can air out their smelly feet (yeah, that happened too).
These are all irritating (and, in the latter case, disgusting), and they will make people hate you.
More damaging, though, is the leader who seems unaware of his or her team members—until one or more of them does something wrong.
Have you worked for this person? A person for whom all of your good work is invisible, but your rare mistake is front and center? (This is akin to the apocryphal husband who, after his wife of 37 years protests that he never tells her that he loves her, says, “I told you I love you when we got married. If that ever changes, I’ll let you know.”)
As a leader, part of your job—a big part of your job—is to be aware of the people around you: your team. You need to be consciously looking for, and acknowledging, the good work they are doing—the little things as well as the big things. Why?
Not just because it makes them (and you) feel good. But each time you acknowledge one of their successes, it builds their “confidence bank,” which means that they’ll be better equipped to successfully handle future projects and challenges—particularly when the pressure is on!When you acknowledge your team’s successes, you set them up for future success. #leadership Click To Tweet
Plus, they won’t hate you. Unless you take your shoes and socks off during the closed-door meeting.