Leadership is about shaping human behaviour and that happens more readily when people are working with those they trust and respect. For this to happen people have to know you, or know about you from people they trust themselves.
You could take a transactional approach – “I am a busy executive with much to do, and as long as my people know what is required and I pay them regularly they will do their jobs.” That may be true, but will they go the extra mile for you in difficult times, or when you are trying to meet increasing shareholder demands and grow your business? They probably won’t.
So why wouldn’t you invest a bit of time in bolstering your peoples’ commitment to harness their discretionary effort? You could do this by winning their respect and trust – by letting them see a bit of the ‘inner you’.
This idea is simple but it does require commitment; you may be shy but it should get easier with practice – here is how:
On your way into the office chat to the reception and security staff – you will be surprised by what you find out.
In the lift travel with everybody else and talk with them about what they are up to, their journey, their families, their football team. Find something in common that connects you.
Vary your route to the office and spend a few minutes with different people every day. Most of your people will really enjoy talking to the boss, and the word will spread.
Repeat regularly – you will get better at it and more at ease and they will all get to know you – either by direct contact or by your reputation for being caring, friendly and approachable. If they think you are genuine they will respect and trust you.
Everyone I know who has tried this has seen rapid results – a better working atmosphere, closer touch with their people and improved engagement scores – meaning more discretionary effort.