I admire Kim for more reasons than I can count. She’s one of those people that always keep you wondering how she does it. Great mom, insanely effective manager, and a great boss.
I learned a lot of professional skills being on her team, but there is one secret weapon that I’ve used more than anything she taught me. Whenever I had a challenge, a conflict, a failure, she’d drop this bomb of a question:
“What is a perfect world for you?”
I’ve often wondered if she knew what she was doing or if it was just part of her compassionate nature. Either way, it worked. Her asking that question pulled me out of rat race mode and put me in touch with my own goals and dreams.
People like to visit their own hopes and dreams. And they like people who take them there.
When you’re a boss it’s really easy to lose touch with the environment your team has to work in. Employees get disoriented by chasing what it is they think you want from them, and they lose their internal ability to feel accomplished. It’s not because they’re wrong or you’re wrong, it’s because they’re operating in your world, not theirs. This is when they start to feel like they’re just going through the motions.
When you make it so unmistakably clear that you are on someone’s team, looking out for them, two things will happen:
- They will tell you everything you need to know about what motivates them;
- They will give you the keys on how to help them get more out of their job.
What they offer you may come as a surprise. You might learn that you need to make some changes. You might learn that they shouldn’t be on your team at all. Or you might learn what a good job you’re doing.
The important thing is to ask. It’s not about playing game. It’s just about the truth. And as my good friend Thomas Jefferson says, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
Is there a conflict on your team? Are you having problems understanding why your employees don’t see things the way you do?
Try their shoes on and allow yourself to see their world for a minute. I promise, you will be surprised what you learn and it will pay dividends to your ability to lead.