When we think of leaders and those who are in positions of authority, we often think of words like powerful, focused, innovative. But what does it take to be an effective manager, and more generally, a good leader? Forbes has two articles which tackle this exact topic.
Oftentimes, I think we forget that being a leader is not just about being authoritative and having an inspiring presence; it is also about having empathy for your employees. According to the article, “How Important Is Empathy To Successful Management?” only 40% of front line leaders were “proficient or strong in empathy.” The ability to have empathy for your employees connects them not only to you personally, but also makes them feel heard and more connected to the company. It creates a positive work environment. Only “30% of employees feel fully engaged, with the remaining 70% functioning at some level of ‘going through the motions.’” Statistics like this are a reminder that many aren’t feeling heard, or feeling like a part of something. Read the two articles below to learn more about how to be an effective leader/manager, and how doing so can affect the workplace positively.
A few weeks ago, I had the option to attend my first SMPS event. It was a mixer for new and prospective members and I would be going alone. When first asked if I wanted to partake in in the Society for Marketing Professional Services, it scared me. This would be something new; something I knew nothing about and people, tons and tons of people I didn’t know. So, I said yes. And when the invite to the mixer came up, I again thought about how scary going into a new environment with new people could be. And so… I said yes.
I left work early to get to the event in Lakewood on time. And though I got there on time, I sat in my car for about five minutes before going in. “How am I going to network with these people?” “What am I going to say?” “How am I going to introduce myself?” “I don’t even know what I’m talking about!” Despite all of those thoughts, I ambled into the event and a crowd of unfamiliar faces. I found my name tag, ordered a drink, and stood alone for a minute or two. Considered calling my mom to make myself look busy and not at all awkward.
And then finally, I walked up to a group of four and said, “I’m so sorry to interrupt but this is my first event. I’m Morgan.” Cue the onset of warm handshakes and kind smiles; stories of other members’ first events, and questions that led to getting to know one another.
Today, while thinking about what the subject of my blog post ought to be, I found an article titled, “9 questions the most interesting people ask to cut through small talk.” It briefly discussed the fears you may have while going into a networking event or a business lunch. And then, went on to discuss the ways in which you can combat those fears and make connections. While there is, of course, a list of questions to ask people, what stuck with me most was how we should show curiosity about someone’s story and then, listen to that someone with all of your being. I believe these things to be important in most settings; with most people, whether it’s work related or within your personal life. We should always be asking curious questions and yearning to truly listen to what other people have to say. In doing so, we can make new connections and even, new friendships.
So, here’s to the next business lunch, networking event, social gathering, or happy hour. Strike up conversations. Ask curious questions. Network. Get to know people. Oh… and don’t call your mom when you want to look busy and go introduce yourself to some complete strangers, instead.
A headline caught my eye the other day while I was looking through the internet. It read, “Most people stop reading after college and 19 other things no one tells you about growing up”. I clicked on it because just last week, I had to force myself to set aside my electronic devices and sit down with a good book. I was an English major in college and I had to FORCE myself to read something because I had come to the realization that I had, in fact, stopped reading after I graduated college.
Before I knew it, I was 70 pages in and relieved. It felt good to do something that I used to enjoy so much and find that it was something I still very much enjoyed. That being said, I had to make a mental note to myself that reading was one of those necessary things I HAVE to make time for because of how much happiness it brings me.
Back to the article and it’s relevancy, it turned out to be a list of things that happen or things you realize once you graduate and start to “grow up.” Aside from the title catching my eye, something else stuck with me. #6 on the list read, “You forget the value of ‘touch’ later on.” It sounded weird but went on to ask, “When was the last time you played in the rain? When was the last time you sat on a sidewalk and looked closely at the cracks, the rocks, the dirt, the one weed growing between the concrete and the grass nearby?” When I read that, I could feel the warm sidewalk on the back of my legs even though it had been ages since the last time I had done that and also, it’s still winter and I was sitting in an office chair.
I thought I’d share the article in it’s entirety because it’s important to pay attention to the small stuff. To do more things that make you happy when you’re not busy working, or spending time with family, or “growing up”. It made me feel good to be reminded of certain things; that you can still be an adult and make time for small things that bring you joy, and also, that other people are experiencing the same thoughts and realizations. Work, and success, and family and friends, are all important pieces to our puzzle but don’t forget: read a book, go for a walk, use your imagination, sit on the sidewalk, and most importantly… #14. NOTHING FEELS AS GOOD AS SOMETHING YOU DO FROM THE HEART.
Have you ever finished a work week and thought “that was a really great week, I feel so energized!” only to follow the next week with “well that week was a struggle…” Have you ever wondered what makes one week so different from the rest? Check out Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
For those who haven’t read Drive, it’s a workplace thriller. If you’re wanting to motivate your staff, catalyze your inner motivation, or make changes in the workplace, this book is a great start.
Pink focuses on the three main elements of modern-day workplace motivation:
Here’s what I learned about each category:
Generally, we are motivated, self-sufficient, and driven when we have control over what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and when we’re doing it. If you’ve had a controlling or micro-managing boss, you know what this is all about. If we as employees, and as human beings, do not feel autonomous in our work, we lose interest and commitment.
If we’ve mastered something, we’re no longer interested in doing it. Part of what drives us as human beings is a constant curiosity. We’re curious from birth, and we stay curious as adults. Because of that fact, we find drive and motivation in solving problems and continuously seeking and learning. Part of finding fulfillment in a career is finding a job that gives us the freedom to continuing learning and striving to be masters.
We need to make money at what we do. That is the central premise of a job. We have to work to live. Purpose goes above and beyond sustaining our livelihood. We want to make money, but that is not at the heart of what drives us. We want to feel like we are making a difference, like we are working for a purpose. And while money can fill a momentary drive, it, like the firework, is soon gone, leaving us thirsting for greater, more exuberant fireworks. In order to find what drives us, to be motivated at work day-in and day-out, we have to find purpose in what we do…and no amount of money will make up for lack of purpose.
Emily Villines, CPSM, MA
Director of Marketing and Outreach