In life we can easily get caught up focusing on how being a great leader that we forget what matters most to truly have a greater influence on people.
It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO of a corporation, a church leader, or a parent who wants to wants a closer relationship with their family. Your capacity to leave a lasting impression is not based on what you know, or how tough you are. It also is not based on your ability to problem solve and accomplish strategic goals for your organization, church, or family. Your impression on people is based on one thing, and one thing alone…how you make them feel.
Every year I take my family on a vacation for Spring Break. This time is very special to me because it’s a great time to relax, and enjoy quality time with my wife and kids. A couple years ago we went to a water park resort in the Bahamas. They promoted it as the largest water park in the area, and the park was just as advertised. The weather was perfect, and the water slides, wave pools, and lazy river was perfect as well! There was only one problem. Their customer service was horrible! We were consistently treated as though our needs weren’t important.
After a while, my wife and I made the decision that we would never come back to that property. Not because it wasn’t beautiful, or that the food wasn’t good, but because they failed to make us feel special. How their staff made us feel was more important than having a great time in the pool. We can get wet anywhere, but we want to go to places and be around people that make us feel special.
Your capacity to leave a lasting impression on people is directly related to how you make people feel consistently. Rather than focusing on the task that needs to be accomplished, or sharing your thoughts and feelings, there are a few things you can do to help you connect with those you lead, and allow you to leave the type of impression that you truly desire to have on those around you.
Here are 3 ways to leave a lasting impression:
- Ask how they are doing. You would think this is obvious, but most people ask, “How are you?” without really listening with the intent of finding out how they really are. People can tell when you are asking out of formality or out of genuine concern. Make sure you make an environment for people to be honest with how they feel. You will be amazed with how much they will appreciate your heart for them, and want to work with you as a result.
- Affirm and Encourage. Many of us grew up in the school of hard knocks, and learned the value of tough love. Because of this it can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that since we “survived” others should be able to survive as well. But when you think about your past, didn’t you really want someone to validate and affirm you? Didn’t you want someone to tell you how special you are, and how much they believed in you? If we are honest with ourselves, we still have that as a need today! Affirming people around you, and giving them encouragement is a critical role for a great leader. Some people won’t develop confidence in themselves until they believe in the confidence that their leader or parent has in them.
- Be transparent. If you want people to share their feelings with you, you should first model the behavior by sharing your feelings with them. This can be hard for some people. Especially if your view of leadership means that a leader can’t afford to reveal their emotions because it could be seen as a sign of weakness. Actually, the opposite is true. When leaders learn to be transparent and be vulnerable with their feelings with those around them, people tend to resonate with them better because they can relate to them. This tends to let people see their leader, boss, or parent as a real person that they can relate to, and want to work with or for.