Want to be a better leader? Travel!

If you want to be a really great leader it is important to see things in perspective. And to see things in perspective you need to be able to see the big picture and compare. And to compare you need to have something to compare your current reality with. One of the tools that will help you with that is travelling.

You should travel to see new things, meet new people, hear new perspectives and to learn how life looks like in other parts of the world. Always try to pick destinations that can bring you new perspective on life. And when you are on the trip, fully concentrate on your surroundings and let go of your life back home, your email, your blackberry and your problems.

  • Listen – listen to the world around you. Listen to the sounds, to the language, to the way people treat each other.
  • Watch – watch the environment and the people. Look at adults as well as children, what do they do? How do they look? Look at their faces and into their eyes. How do they approach their work and their lives?
  • Experience – experience some life. Don’t stay locked in a gilded cage of a five star hotel. Spend some quality time in the real world. Try new things, new activities, taste new food and meet new people.
  • Understand – try your best to understand the things you see around yourself. Why are the things the way they are? Why do people in this country or culture behave this way? What does it mean? Never assume anything. Ask, research, and then understand. You are a tourist so don’t be afraid to be a bit nosy. But keep an open mind and don’t judge.
  • Compare – compare how does this world differs from yours? What are the similarities, what are the things that are different and why? But again, don’t judge. Only because someone lives his life differently it doesn’t mean that it is better or worse, it is just different.
  • Learn – what did you learn from this experience and the comparison that you can take with you back home? How does it changes your perspective on things?
  • Implement – and don’t stay just with learning. Implement the new thoughts and observations in your own behavior. From each trip you take you should return a bit different and hopefully a bit better.

Let me give you example from my life. I love travelling. I usually go to places that are as much exotic for me as possible. I want to see something really new, experience things I couldn’t experience at home and meet people who are really different and live their lives in ways I couldn’t imagine. The part of the world that left the biggest impact on me was without doubt East Africa. Being a person from the heart of Europe with all the technology and consumerist style of life I was really surprised by what I have seen. I spent a month in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, travelled to bigger cities, climbed mountains, went to a low budget safari and saw people in the villages living their daily lives. It was amazing.

I walked through some of the small and poor villages, I saw people going an hour for drinkable water, living of the dry land, not having much but still have smile on their faces, joy in their lives. I saw people who welcome visitors with curiosity and open hands. Seeing this had a really profound impact on me as I realized that there are other ways to be happy than just pursuing wealth and fame in fast-paced societies like in the western cultures. In the western culture we take too many things for granted, but seeing the real happiness of small kids in the heart of Uganda who could spend half a day around you just out of curiosity and would get ecstatic for a small gift or a from you really changed the way how I look at the world and at myself. You learn to appreciate small things and that makes you resistant to stress. You learn to understand diversity and that makes you a better people manager and a leader.

When I came back several people told me that I changed. And I felt the change myself. I started to be a bit more attentive to the small daily wins, appreciate bit more what I have and also created a rather low patience with people who complain about their material well-being while living in consumerist society and enjoy richness way above what most of the people in the World can even imagine. It allowed me to help other people around me to see these small daily wins, to focus their attention to the good in their lives, and complain less about things they cannot influence. I strongly believe this single trip made me a little bit better leader and in fact a little bit better person.

Twitter type summary: “When travelling, listen, watch, experience, understand, compare, learn and implement to become a better person and a better leader.”

Have you every traveled to a place that had an impact on your life? Have some experience during your travels changed the way you see the world?

The real leadership shows when you are not the boss

Do you have a team of people working for you? Do you manage them? Do you provide direction, guidance? Do you get things done by working through them? Then you are a great manager, excellent boss and possibly also a leader. Now, imagine a company without fancy titles. Would you be still seen as a leader by your team? Sadly in many situations managers rely too much on their titles and thus don’t do what needs to be done to be seen and accepted as leaders. The real leadership shows when you are asked to get something done by utilizing a team that you have no direct reporting line to and when there is no obvious incentive for this team to work with you.

Working for you or working with you?

How do you prepare for such a situation? The best way is to build a leadership style that is based on a premise that people don’t work for you but they work with you. This requires a specific mindset, for example the one described in my previous post Coaching approach to leading people. You don’t direct people what to do, you just provide guidance, help and opportunities. When you get used to getting things done this way it is rather irrelevant whether the team that works with you reports to you or to someone else.

It is a typical job of a project manager to deliver a project while using a team of people who may not necessarily report to him. When I worked for a big multinational company with half a million employees worldwide I was plugged into the matrix organization. I lead a team of people working on numerous projects but I had no direct responsibility for delivering the project. I was just managing the people. At the same time to make it more interesting I was responsible for couple of projects and initiatives that required me to utilize people who didn’t report to me. The opportunity of being on both sides of the fence helped me to develop couple of habits that I use since.

It is your team

I believe you need to have a very simple mindset when working with others. You must consider them as part of your team. It doesn’t matter whether they report to you or someone else, it doesn’t matter that they might be your peers or even superiors. You should always see them as someone who deserves your attention and that you are here to help them succeed. And as a by-product the things gets done and you achieve your goal.

Show them vision

When marshaling your resources you need to provide a vision, a goal, a target. Something that needs to be achieved and that people in your virtual team should march towards. You may also want to show them what is in it for them. How they may grow and achieve their personal goals when working with you on a particular initiative.

Fight for them

It is your team! And that means that you fight for them. You are the spokesperson, the guardian and the person who needs to shield them from anything that may derail their effort. In fact, you may even need to step up and have a discussion with their boss if you feel they are not getting what they should from him.

Give them credit

Forget about sharing credit. Sharing credit doesn’t really work as sharing by definition means that you still keep part of it and that almost always translates to you being seen as the one who did the job. Don’t share, just give all the credit to the team! You are not particularly important, you are just the coordinator, the enabler, it is the team that did the work and they deserve the credit. When they don’t report to you make sure their managers know about the great job they did. And don’t stop there, remember, even if they don’t report to you they are your team! So you are responsible to ensuring they get the recognition they deserve.

Mentor them

Yes, they may work with you only for a short period of time but it doesn’t mean you should treat them as expendable resources. Again, they are your team and you are responsible for giving them opportunity to learn and to grow. You must provide feedback and mentorship. Why? Well, as the saying goes you always meet twice. If you provide real leadership and mentoring, if you help them to achieve their goals they will see you as a leader and will want to work with you in the future.

Build relationships

And this brings up to building relationships. You want to make sure you create rapport, you have a good working relationship with the team as you may need their help in future projects or initiatives. When you build a deep connection with people and they understand that they matter to you and that you care it is much easier for them to provide the help you will need to get the job done.

These basics should help you to build great teams both the ones reporting to you and virtual ones that span across the organization through numerous departments and seniority levels. And is there a dark side? Well, the worst thing that can happen is that you will find yourself in a position that everyone wants to not only work with you but also for you.

Twitter type summary: “The real leadership shows when you get things done utilizing a team that doesn’t report to you and has no incentive to work with you.”

What are your tips and tricks on how to get a job done when you need resources across the organization that don’t report to you?

Good enough is the new great

Having background in software engineering, being developer for couple of years, managing products and software development teams for a long time I was constantly facing decisions of what is the right balance of developing products fast and in a good quality. And what does good quality actually mean. What are the right criteria to decide whether a product is ready to be released? How do you know what is the best for the customer and you?

What I have observed is that the incremental value of spending more and more time and money to make the product perfect is limiting to zero. Having the product “perfect” will most likely not bring more money, it will not get you more customers and it will not be appreciated by the customers you have as the differences will be just too marginal or taken for granted. And what does “perfect” mean anyway…

You always have to ask what you are getting with each incremental investment and what is the opportunity cost (as our economist friends would say). What does it bring and what does it take away to implement a new feature to enhance the product or to fix a particular low impact issue? What does it bring? You will feel good. You will have a better product. Customers may or may not notice. Customers may not even care. What does it take away? Time and money you could have spent on something else!

To illustrate that you don’t need to have this mindset only on the big scale but also in everything you do on daily basis just consider this example. You are a busy person. You have to deal with tons of tasks every day. When you get email from your boss asking about status of a particular project what do you do? Do you spent next half an hour writing a long email with all the details of what is happening, all the issues and how you solved them? Or would you rather just write a short executive summary stating that the project is on time as planned, when the delivery date is and that there is a minor risk because of flu season so people could get sick and you will keep him appraised?

The first report takes thirty minutes, the second takes five minutes. The first provides too much information that is not making it better but in fact is making it worse as your boss will have to spend ten minutes reading it and trying to understand the implications as compared to thirty seconds the second report would take. So you spent twenty-five more minutes than necessary writing something your customer (boss) doesn’t need and because of that you had to skip a mentoring session with one of your subordinates.

So never ask “Is it the best we can do?”, because the answer is always “No, of course we can do better, add more features, make it more shiny.” Better question is “Is it good enough for what we/customers need?” You don’t need all the bells and whistles, you don’t need to gold plate everything. As long as you meet the minimum criteria you and your customers have, you are done. And you have done a great job, in fact much better job than if you spent another year and tons of money to make it nicer and shinier.

Just make sure you provide what you promised, what you expect, what your team expects, and what your customer paid for. By providing more you spend time, money, attention on something that doesn’t bring the value. Rather go and build second product, or spend more time with your team, or innovate your processes, or spend more time with customers on the next big thing.

Twitter type summary: “Don’t ask your team whether this is the best they can do, but rather whether this is good enough for what the customers need.”

How do you know that your job is done and product is good enough? Do you push your team to do the best they can or to do what needs to be done?

What problem are you trying to solve?

It happens very often especially when you try to prioritize too many things that you have trouble to actually distinguish what the right top priority stuff is and why it should be done. One approach for dealing with these situations is to ask a simple question: “What problem are you trying to solve?” It doesn’t make sense to start working on a solution to a problem that is not understood. If you don’t know what the problem is, why it should be solved and why you are the right person to do it, then don’t work on it!

When someone asks for your help or advice your first question should be “What problem are you trying to solve?” Quite often with this open ended question or its short version “Why?” the other person may realize that the topic is not relevant or that there is a bigger topic behind.

Let me give you an example. Your subordinate comes to you and asks you for a new computer. Your response is “OK, let’s talk about it. Why do you want a new computer?” “Well, the one I have is old, it is slow, I have it for 5 years. I really want a new one.”

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Except, it doesn’t really provide the answer to the question asked. What is the “deep why” behind it? So far the answer just superficially described something that may or may not be relevant. It might be that there is new software that just doesn’t run fast enough on this computer. It might be that everyone else already got a new computer so this particular employee feels left out. It might be that there is actually something wrong with the computer he is using.

When you keep asking “What problem are you trying to solve?” the person needs to really think about it. “I believe I could be much more efficient if I got new computer.” “We just got new software for creating reports on some data and it runs for twenty minutes when I just sit and wait for it to finish.” Now, this brings completely new information into the picture: “Running reports takes twenty minutes when I just sit and do nothing.” It also opens other options on how to solve the problem. It might be that a faster computer wouldn’t help at all. Maybe we need better server that hosts the database, or we may need faster network connection, or everything is fine and we just need to utilize better the time being wasted by waiting.

So let’s come back to our question. For this simple question to work, it needs to be asked in a way that doesn’t convey implicit “No”. If someone comes to you with a request and you ask this question while already having in mind a picture of big red “No”, your body language, tone of voice and urgency with which you ask the question will send across a message that you are not really interested in the answer and you just don’t want to say “No” straight away. So what to do about it? It is all about openness, consistency and trust. It is vitally important that you behave consistently in these situations, that employees even anticipate this question and know based on their past experience, or experience of their team mates, that you are genuinely interested in the answer, that you ask because you want to help them and it is important to you what they think, what their problems are and to have a solution that will be the best for them and the company.

You may enhance this method by a bit annoying trick that can help to identify the root cause of the issue and find options is to continue to ask “Why”. You can do this as long as it takes to get to the bottom of the problem. You may want to ask the “Why question” in different ways so you don’t repeat endlessly the same word. Or you may be very upfront and explain that you will now ask “Why?” several times to get really to the core issue that needs to be solved. That way you will not be seen as someone who doesn’t listen or someone who doesn’t treat others respect.

Let’s get back to our example with the computer.

You (Why 1): “What problem are you trying to solve?”

Employee: “Well, I feel that I waste lots of time waiting for the reports.”

You (Why 2): “Why do you think you are wasting time?” Now, it will probably take more time to find out the answer. The employee needs to really think about it and you shouldn’t rush him. Use the tone of voice that indicates you have the time to listen to the answer and you expect your subordinate to think.

Employee: “It happens to me often that during the day I just sit and wait for the computer to get the data.”

You (Why 3): “Why do you just sit and wait for the data?”

Employee: “Well, because it is too slow… though I could probably do something else in the meantime.”

You (Why 4): “Why don’t you?”

Employee: “I guess I just need the rest every now and then. I can collect my thoughts, close my eyes for a second and relax a bit so I can continue the work. I’m just exhausted and my head aches from the constant looking at the screen.”

Now, this paints a completely different picture. Instead of the problem with slow computer, you have here overloaded employee who feels like there is too much to do, is nervous and blames his equipment for slowing him down. He might be even guilty about resting a bit even though he needs it. If he got faster computer as he originally wanted it could very well make the situation worse.

You may still look at the situation with computer and IT infrastructure (let’s delegate this to IT department) but the biggest thing is that we should look at our internal processes and set performance expectations right with this employee. And all this just because you repeatedly asked “Why?”

Twitter type summary: “If you don’t know what the problem is, why it should be solved and why you are the right person to do it, then don’t work on it!”

Have you ever had a situation when repeating asking of “Why” question helped you to figure out a problem behind problem?

Getting the perfect hire

There was so much written about the topic of recruitment and how to hire the right people to the organization. And there is a good reason for it! As I wrote in blog post Everyone is a recruiter, recruitment is one of the keys to a successful organization. You just need to get it right otherwise you will constantly struggle. So what should you focus on when hiring a new team member?

What to focus on

Expertise – obviously you want to hire someone who is able to do the job. You should expect a basic level of technical competence. How deep expertise the person needs to have really depends on the role. For some roles the expertise is the most critical part (especially when you want to bring type of expertise not available in the team yet), however for most of the roles the expertise is “only” important but not critical. What is more critical is capability.

Capability – you want to hire someone who will be able to grow with the organization, someone smart and capable who will constantly improve, be innovative, be able to solve complex problems and learn the needed expertise fast. So capability and future potential trumps the expertise but there is something even more critical.

Attitude – this is the most critical item you need to focus on. I love the quote by Lou Holtz (American football coach) “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” The person might be super smart, the greatest expert, but if he is not passionate about the work, if he doesn’t want to do his best, you will not get the results you expect. At the other hand if he has the right attitude “he wants”, he has the potential “is capable”, he will learn the expertise. That is how stars are made!

Communication – you are building a team and that means people need to communicate. In today’s global world the ability to communicate, formulate your thoughts, present your ideas and do it in such a way that you get support is super important. You might find the smartest person but if he is unable to communicate his ideas to the rest of the team then it is a lost opportunity and you won’t be able to get the best out of him.

Cultural fit – you need to hire for the company values. You need to find people whose values are in line with yours and with those of the organization. That is the only way how to build a sustainable organization, how to make sure the team has a common sense of ownership and pushes in the same direction.

How to do it?

Don’t compromise on requirements – you should never ever compromise on what you need. Don’t lower the bar! If you need a senior developer then hire someone with capabilities of a senior developer. Don’t take shortcuts (like hiring someone with skills of a junior developer and just giving him the fancy senior developer title) and don’t crumble under pressure. Yes, you need the person fast. Yes, there is a push from the management. But none of it matters. If you compromise now, you will have to compromise every single day the person will be on board as he won’t be able to do the job you need him to do.

Don’t oversell or overpromise – the best way to attract the person who will stick with you is to be yourself even during the interviews. Why try to attract a person by over promising and hire on a false pretense? Yes, he may start but very soon he will recognize that things are not as promised and it will have a significant impact on his motivation. By overselling the company or position you just crossed one action item (getting the person) and created tons of other action items for you for the future when you will be required to spend time with the person to keep him motivated, keep him focused, keep him in the company.

Don’t underpay or overpay – always offer a fair compensation that is in-line with that person’s market value and is at par with his future peers with similar skillset that are already on your team. Don’t try to overpay even if you need the person really badly. You can always persuade someone to join by giving him more money, but if he is not compatible with the organization, doesn’t share the values and doesn’t want to join just for the sake of the job, then he won’t give you 100% and you just brought on really expensive troubles.

Don’t hire copies – don’t try to hire copies of yourself or copies of the best person on your team. Hire the right person to have a balanced team. You don’t need, and in fact you don’t want, to hire ten superstars with twenty years of experience. It is unlikely that these guys would work well together. You need a team that has someone who is a strong leader, a strong substitute, someone with great technical expertise who can teach others, someone who solves any problem, someone who is willing and able to learn, someone who won’t complain about a boring tasks, someone who will research new things, someone who will be willing to work with old technology, someone who will do what is needed even if boring. And these traits don’t need to be bundled in a single individual. The simple rule is to build a team that is great today, but that has also enough junior members and potential to be great also in the future.

That’s it. I’m pretty sure there are many other aspects of what to focus on when hiring a new team member and I don’t pretend to have all the right answers. Keep in mind that I’m coming from technology companies where people are the single most important (and often most expensive) asset and can make or break the business. And when you are still not really sure whether to hire the candidate this simple trick may help. Ask the hiring team who spoke with the candidate if there is anyone who is really enthusiastic about him and willing to put their reputation on the line. If no one raises their hand then continue to search.

Twitter type summary: “When it comes to a fight between expertise and attitude, the attitude will win with both eyes closed and one hand behind its back.”

What are your tips and tricks on how to hire the right people to the team? Anything in particular you always focus on that you believe is a key to the right hire?

Everyone is a recruiter

What is the single most important thing you need if you are building a company? Well, you may say: a great idea, money to start with, customers would be nice. All these are definitely useful, but you won’t get anything done if you don’t have people to do it. The single most important thing you need to build a team are the actual people! People who share your vision, who are driven to achieve the goals and who have the technical skills to get the job done.

What does it mean for you as a leader? And what does it mean for your team? Everyone’s top priority when building an organization must be recruitment and growing people. You simply can’t outsource the most important thing to external recruiter or to HR department. They can help you, provide tools, in fact even source some good candidates but at the end of the day it is your responsibility and the responsibility of your team to identify the best (and by that I mean the right) people and get them on board.

When building my team over the last couple of years it was a mantra: first deal with any emergency the customers might have; then focus on recruitment; and only then do the rest of your job. It may sound a bit counter-intuitive but it is actually pretty logical. If you don’t find the time to recruit people and grow the team because you are overloaded by other tasks you will stay overloaded forever. At the other hand if you give the recruitment a priority you get the people who will do the work you are putting off and much more.

Everyone is a recruiter

In most countries and cultures the best source of candidates are referrals. These are people who are recommended by someone already on your team. You should encourage the team to help sourcing new candidates. There is no need for them starting act as professional recruiters (in fact they shouldn’t as it could confuse potential candidates), but they should let their network of contacts know that you are hiring and they should find the time to approach and talk to their former colleagues who are qualified.

Everyone is an interviewer

Every person on your team should get opportunity to be involved in the recruitment process. Obviously, you don’t want to push people who are not interested and thus wouldn’t do a good job, but you want to be open to anyone on the team who raises hand and wants to get involved. Why would you do that? There are several good reasons that offset the fact that while interviewing candidates they are not producing.

  • Scalability – the more people you are able to involve in the interview process the more candidates you can process without overtaxing yourself
  • Ownership – if the team participates in the interview process and their thoughts and recommendations are being taken seriously it promotes sense of ownership for growing the team, and will at the end help with acceptance of new team members once they join
  • Sales – involving people in the interview process has also the positive side effect on referrals as mentioned above as they learn how to present the company
  • Communication – people involved in the interview process learn how to communicate better, how to evaluate people, how to share their thoughts, how to provide feedback and how to come to agreement

Everyone is a leader

You want to give people responsibility for hiring their colleagues as it lets them improve their leadership skills. Most of the points mentioned above are really important for any leader. He needs to be able to communicate well; come to agreement with others; evaluate other people and provide feedback; make a decision; talk about the job, vision, company; have sense of ownership. It is also important that you provide feedback on the way how they run the interview, figure out a way to get some feedback from candidates and keep the team apprised about the process and who was at the end selected.

And what about you?

It is your responsibility as a leader to build your team and while lots of the work and recommendations can be done by others you want to get involved at some stage. If you have done your job in training your team well, then there is 99 percent probability that you will agree with their recommendation. It is not the point of you double checking their work. The reason why you want to talk to the candidate is different:

  • You want to be seen by the candidate as a leader
  • You want to be able to share your vision for the team
  • You want to show respect for the candidate and let him know that he is really important to you and to the company

And yes, scalability might be an issue here so you may share this responsibility with couple of other senior leaders in your organization.

Twitter type summary: “It’s not a single person. It takes everyone from the team to recruit, interview and build a great team that will hold together.”

Do you involve your team in recruitment interviews? What and the positive and possible negative aspects you see with this approach? How do you ensure that you hire the right people and how much do you rely on HR department?

Learn to be genuinely interested in people

One of the key aspects managing people effectively is the ability to show genuine interest. What do I mean by genuine interest? I mean that not only you act as that you care, but you really do care and listen to what people are saying. It is easier said than done. Especially when you just want to get the job done and you may not care about the employee at all. If that is your case then face the sad truth: you are not a leader. At best you are a manager, who needs to use authoritative style of management, and no one will follow you. Some people are more adept at this, have more empathy and are more people oriented. Others may be more task oriented and may not have the curiosity and interest in the other people’s lives and problems. However, as a leader it is your responsibility and in fact your purpose to be there for your team.

The good news is that the ability to be genuinely interested in people is something that can be learned. You can learn to be interested in others. You can learn to care about others around you. You can learn to trust people around you and by doing this other people will be interested in you, will care about what you have to say and will trust you. The bad news is that it takes lots of effort and time and you need to be willing to change a bit who you are. If you decide to change who you are you need to be aware of the impact of the change on you, your personal and professional life and on people around you. The change will be probably pretty slow and needs some careful consideration before you start.

I don’t have a recipe for how to do it as each of us is unique, but I can offer you couple of thoughts that can help you with this learning process. Depending on your habits, on your beliefs, learned behavior and generally on who you are you may need to build this skill in phases.

1. Announce it to the world

At the beginning you will most likely only pretend. Wait a minute. Leader and pretending? That doesn’t sound right. But again, you need to start somewhere and let’s allow ourselves (as junior leaders) the option to pretend, having the greater good in mind. You are doing this with genuine interest in developing a particular skill. You may also want to announce this to the world, meaning your team. For example: “Guys I realized that I don’t pay enough attention and don’t show interest in you and what you do. Please, help me to change this.” This statement doesn’t make the pretension right, but it buys you time as people will understand what you are trying to achieve and will be more lenient for some time in this regard.

2. Focus on the person

When you talk to a person always make sure you focus only on that particular individual and don’t get distracted by anything else. You need to not only pay attention but let the other person know that you are paying attention. This means that your whole body language must be in sync with what you are saying.  Stop doing whatever you are doing, face the person, make eye contact and listen.

Let me give you an example to illustrate. One thing that you can see in the business world very often, especially in fast-paced environments is that people are always busy, always online, reading emails, fiddling with their blackberry or iPhone. When you come to such a person with request or question he may not even glance at you, may continue writing his message and just asks “How can I help you?” So his words are saying, yes, I care about your problem, but his whole body language sends a very clear message: “Don’t you see I’m busy? I really don’t care about your problem.”

The leader who shows genuine interest would stop writing, maybe took a deep breath to switch from one context to another, face you, fully focus on you as a person and then ask how can be of help. The experience for you is very different and so it is for the leader. He genuinely cares and wants to help you. He understands that if he just half-listens not only he may not understand what message you try to get across, but he knows that you will also have a rather negative experience and will not feel like being treated with respect. Even if you caught the leader at a wrong time and he really cannot make the time for you just now, he still needs to switch the context, focus on you, ensure he doesn’t appear irritated, use the right tone of voice and ask you to come at another time.

3. See the world through their eyes

Another important thing that will help you to build a genuine interest in others is to be willing to step into their shoes and look at the world through their eyes. It may very well be that the topic someone came to you with is on the surface not important for you but it may be vital to that person. That makes it vital also to you as a leader who is responsible for that particular person. If you really don’t understand and feel like the topic is no priority, use the coaching approach and ask “Why is it important to you?” The person in question will have to think why this is a topic he cares about thus giving you a chance to understand him better.

If even the person admits that it is not a critical thing you can then easily move the discussion to another time or just let the person to come up with the answer himself by returning the question “So what would you do?” or “What do you want to do about it?” Of course empathy and tone of voice play a key role so you are seen as someone who genuinely cares and tries to help.

At the end it all boils down to a simple human condition called curiosity. If you want to be a great leader who cares about his team and is able to show a genuine interest then remember the days when you were a kid curious about everything and everyone around you…

Twitter type summary: “Treat each conversation like a surgical operation. Give it your undivided attention, your voice, eyes, mind and body must be as one.”

What about you? How do you show to your team that you care? How do you build respect? How do you make others to follow you?