The Human Element of Leadership?

It has been said that “you have to touch the heart to move the mind,” and yet many managers run to avoid “warm and fuzzy” discussions. Wishing people would check their emotions at the door never quite seems to work, but sincerely tuning in to what’s going on with someone actually produces better results.

So how does it work? Picture your last team meeting. How much of the meeting time was spent talking about:

1. what you do in terms of services and products?

2. how you organize yourselves (systems, processes, and procedures)?

3. who you are individually (strengths to offer, interests, and abilities)?

4. how you interact with each other (relationships across teams and within the team, agreements, participation)?

Will Schutz, author of The Human Element, challenged leaders to make “delicate balance” the goal. Chances are most of the meeting agenda and air time is spent on the first two items with minimal (if any) time spent on the latter items. Schutz believes that there isn’t anything in the first two items that can’t be addressed by discussion and focus on the latter two. That’s a tall order and a departure for some of us, but perhaps it’s worth trying.

One simple way to introduce this practice in your team would be to start your next meeting by asking every member of the team to answer the following on a scale of one to 10: “How [focused, excited, engaged, (or similar)] are you?” (Hint: You might want to go first since it can seem a bit scary being honest like this without a model to follow.)

This quick exercise can produce some great results. You will know who is hyped up and ready to take on the world and you will know who isn’t quite “in it” for whatever the reason. No explanations are needed unless a team member chooses to share more; however, you might want to check in on them individually if concerned. Depending on the level of trust and connection within the team, discussion can continue on ways to help support and lift each other up, especially those members who feel like they are lagging or dragging a bit.

Bottom line? You, as the leader, get a quick read on where your team is and can plan accordingly. Additionally, you get the added benefit of team members feeling a sense of connection with each other and you (for asking in the first place), and that is good for business!