Time passes so quickly that I can barely believe my three daughters are almost teenagers. Seems like they were just in diapers, I was telling my friend Hal Runkel, president of The ScreamFree Institute and a national expert on helping families create great relationships. I love to pick his brain to be the best mom I can be as my children grow more independent.
Hal’s wisdom helps people become better leaders, not just better parents. Hal repeated three simple words to me: love, learn and launch. That’s your role as a parent, he explained. It stuck and serves a great reminder for building great relationships on corporate teams, not just families.
Lesson 1: Love.
A great leader (and parent) is excited about each team member, their skills and personality, and how they will fit into your mission and team chemistry. This connection remains no matter what the person does. Yes, you may have to have hard conversations along the way—the deep respect that grows from a leader’s care makes those difficult moments easier to navigate.
Here’s a specific example of love and leadership: recruiting and hiring. This is your first step to bringing a new person into your team, and he or she can sense your passion and authenticity (or insincerity). There is no substitute for this gut emotion.
In recruiting and hiring, we only have one chance to make a first impression, which can make or break success. As the keynote speaker at a recent national conference on talent acquisition and the candidate experience, I learned that nearly half of all candidates (47.7 percent) had no previous relationship with a company before applying, meaning that the candidate experience is the first exposure they have to a company’s brand and highlighting the need to for employers to get it right.
Company values are crucial to shaping an employer brand; 41.4 percent of candidates stated that the most important marketing material influencing their decision to apply was the company’s values.
If you are unsure of this person’s qualifications or fit, that can be hard to hide. Great leaders find some level of emotional connection to those who work for them. This can be through a shared passion for the work, for the team, for goals. In this context, “love” is a deep connection that is essential for long-term success.
Lesson 2: Learn.
This is where your mind balances your heart. When that new person joins your team, you have already learned about their background and references. He or she has interviewed well. You have the love going.
But learning doesn’t stop there. It continues through the first day your team member is on the job and every day he or she remains.
As that person learns and masters the work of the team, the leader is observing and learning what makes that person tick. What is her fear? What is his desire? Where does she shine? Where could he use some help? I call that 360 Degree Awareness, because I believe a great leader always learns, absorbs and offers appropriate support.
(We also could do a whole lot better learning from job candidates about their experiences with our recruiting process. The same industry survey showed that three-quarters (75.4 percent) of candidates said they were never asked about their experience by an employer. So we miss the chance to see if our passion and mission is connecting to the candidate’s overall experience. This is a prime opportunity to exercise curiosity-based leadership.)
Lesson 3: Launch.
A great leader helps position every team member to achieve their most fulfilling work. For me, a great employee is coachable. She or he embraces feedback and has a growth mindset. This perspective is based in a desire to learn. It embraces challenges, persists despite obstacles, thinks of effort as a means to mastery, and welcomes the chance to learn from constructive criticism. A person with this mindset views others’ success as a window into lessons and inspiration for even greater personal success, fueled by the power of free will (not expectation).
A coach does everything in his or her power to launch the team and each member to success. As a mother, I am trying to nurture coachability in my daughters. I believe this is essential for launching them to meaningful lives as adults. Let them spread their wings.
Learn what his or her dream is and find ways to support it. By making your team work more fulfilling, you will build relationships for future success.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Fearlessly and with curiosity, creative leaders observe what works in one part of their lives to see if it will apply to a new challenge. Think about how you authentically love, consistently learn and generously launch the people who depend on you. Become intentional about supporting their experience and best work. That’s a mark of great leadership.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.