I got asked today if I could suggest a way for one of my clients to connect with her team members, to build trust and create rapport and connection that went beyond the everyday focus of what needed to be done. She wanted to know how to help her people see that she did care about them, and how to engage them beyond the urgency of whatever project they happened to be on.
She went on to say that she felt she wasn’t good at that. We have her StrengthsFinder report which shows that ‘empathy’ in the way that Gallup define it is right at the bottom. We’ve already uncovered that she is naturally programmed to focus on the task, keep the timeline and project milestones in mind and drive performance to get results. It what makes her a POWERHOUSE for her company.
I’d like to share what I said to her because I believe it can help others, and I would also love to hear from anyone that thinks I’m wrong – what would you have suggested or where would you have taken the conversation?
I went on to discuss the Be-Do-Have model. You see, most of us have it backwards. We think we have to HAVE something, to then DO something which will allow us to BE something.
In my client’s case, she wanted to HAVE empathy, which she thought would then lead her to DO-ing more empathetic conversations and which would allow her to BE a leader who had a reputation for caring for her team.
But the reverse way of looking at situations is often the easiest and most impactful way to have anything you want. When you come from the BE-ing space, you naturally DO what someone of that identity does, and then you can HAVE anything you want.
Using the example of getting fit and losing weight is a good way to look at it. When you go through HAVE – DO – BE, you often think you need to HAVE motivation before you can DO exercise and eat right, and that will allow you to BE strong and athletic. However that is a recipe for continually striving and relying on willpower to produce the motivation to kick off the action. And when you don’t ‘have motivation’, you have an easy out to sit on the couch and eat pizza.
When you come from the other way around and commit to BE-ing a strong, healthy, athletic person, then it is a lot easier to DO what that type of person would do. You naturally move and exercise your body and feed it nourishing food and drink. This way, you can effortlessly produce a strong sexy body!
For my client, we slowed down the conversation and explored who she was BE-ing as a leader. She realised that as a leader her top priority is on results, she has been used to being a team of one for many years, and now that she has a team, she is more focused on getting things DO(ne) than on how they DO it. As a result, she HAS no time for ‘chit chat’, no time for broader social discussions as they haven’t been important in getting the work done.
However, she has come to the realisation that she wants a deeper connection with her team. She can see the advantages of engaging with them on a more personal level and would like to be a leader with impact beyond the quarterly results, a leader who leaves a lasting legacy with her team and her workplace.
And so I shared with her a concept from Japan that is one of the best and most impactful ideas that has transformed my own ability to build relationships and promote trust within my team.
In Japanese its called Ichie Go Ichie E. and it is supremely simple, yet often not easy to enact at first. However once you see the ultimate power in it, it will become your default way of interacting.
You may have heard the phrase ‘people don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care’. And practicing this philosophy is one of the easiest way to show you care.
Ichie Go, Ichi E (pronounced Itchy – go, Itchy- Eh). The literal translation is one time, one meeting and its practical meaning is something like this: What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. The point of this is to emphasise gratitude and appreciate a shared moment in our lives.
Ichie Go Ichie E is a reminder to use the power of our attention to be fully present in the moment, with our team mates, our family, our partners and society at large. This is one of the best ways that I know of to show a care-factor and to generate that space with the people in your life to authentically connect, communicate and collaborate.
Practicing Ichie-Go Ichie-E means paying attention to the person sitting right in front of you. Close your emails. Remove your phone from sight. Listen to what they are saying without paying attention to the chatter in your head which is calling you to move on to the next thing. This is a powerful way to connect and understand what we are doing, and what the other person needs (or example, recognising from their cues that we should stop talking etc), and also gives us access to gratitude for the magic of a shared moment.
If we want to be able to look back on our lives with happiness and know that we have generated an impact or a legacy as a great leader, we need to be able to fully give our attention to the present moment. We can’t allow our lives to be a succession of conversations that we are not truly present for. We have the magic of our focus to turn every encounter into something special. And when we do, no matter our natural communication style, we will generate great relationships as the people in our lives will feel seen, heard and like they matter enough to have our full attention.
If this is resonating with you, practice it today! Be that leader that is able to create the space in your conversations where your team feel trusted and honoured to share their real thoughts, express their opinions, and to feel like you are open to hearing what they want to say by you being present with them.
Trust is built in micro-moments – it isn’t the result of some big flashy high energy team event. It is strengthened between two people every time you do what you say you are going to do, every time you keep a confidence, or resist the urge to join in office gossip, and every time you allow others to be seen and heard. As a leader, I know of no better way to build trust with your people, than to pause and be present.
Remember, even though you may be meeting 1:1 with your people every week, they are not the same person as your last conversation. You are not the same person either. You’ve both done things, read things (like this awesome article) that have helped to expand your perspective, and so get curious about who is now in front of you. Build trust and rapport by asking questions that allow them to express who they are to you beyond their job title.
Some quick tips to help this happen are to:
- Get out of the office together – go for a Twalk (a talking walk)
- Close your email and face the other person when they are talking to you
- Remove your phone and the temptation to look at it while in meetings
- Get curious instead of defensive if your team member says something negative
- Ask questions that go beyond the day to day focus – like:
- How are you doing these days in general?
- What are your wider career goals?
- Out of everything you do, what do you enjoy most and why?
- Follow with enjoy least and again ask why?
- When you were little, what did you want to be?
- How did you end up in this industry?
- Where do you see yourself in five or ten years time?
- Is there anything I am doing as your Manager that isn’t working for you?
- What suggestions do you have to help boost morale in our team?
By BE-ing the type of leader who genuinely cares about her people, you’ll naturally DO the right things to create space, to invite them to share their challenges and help them overcome their blockages to high performance, and if you are DO-ing this consistently, then you’ll HAVE a high performing, deeply cohesive and engaged team.
If you want help with understanding how you can do that, while still maintaining a focus on results and staying on top of your demanding inbox, and juggling all the other life commitments you have, then please reach out. Email us on email@example.com and we would love to share wisdom and help you generate the team of your dreams!