I was talking with two members of a religious organization. They were in conversation about two of their recent leaders when I came in. We’ll call one Leader A and Leader B.
Leader A had been with the organization about 6 years prior and was very clear about his vision. He didn’t always allow for input from other and sometimes came across as very autocratic.
Leader B solicited input or shared his thoughts but was very hands off in how the ideas were executed. To some it appeared that Leader B didn’t really care whether or not the idea came to fruition.
Both leaders were very charismatic and both communicated well. Both were experienced leaders and obviously had some methods that had worked for them. Both also had their flaws.
But, when the question came up as to which one they would choose if given the option, Leader A stood out for them. They remembered continually arguing with Leader A and in many cases, he seemed inflexible. However, there was one thing that Leader A did that made a difference for them. He always knew their names, what they were working on, what was going in their families and if they were missing. One of the members specifically recalled a time when they were pregnant and he seemed to know exactly how many weeks along they were.
He remembered questions that were asked of him months earlier. He remembered birthdays and anniversaries. He remembered seemingly personal or meaningless information and he asked questions that showed he was concerned.
Leader B did none of this and therefore never really gained a connection. When it came down to it, no one really went to bat for Leader B because they didn’t really feel like he would go to bat for them. Leader B communicated but he never connected.
John Maxwell, in his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” refers to connecting as “the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”[bctt tweet=”Connecting: the ability to identify with people & relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them. – John Maxwell”]
People hold dear things like their names, their birthdays, anniversaries, awards, and graduations. When these things are recognized or mentioned by a leader, it makes a tremendous difference. When people feel like you are interested in THEM, they seem willing to overlook or simply deal with some of the flaws that you bring.
You can read all of the leadership manuals that you want. But, if you simply remember people’s names and things that are important to them, you will have a great head start. I’d be lying if I said that is all there is. There are those pesky RESULTS that people seem to look for. But, a leader with an elephant memory who knows how to use it effectively will have an easier time gaining influence. They’ll also be given a mulligan or two.