Lisa was promoted and knew she would work hard to be a great manager. She had enough experiences, good and bad, to know what she didn’t want to do. But she had an immediate challenge in one of her employees, and had almost decided to find a way to let her go, to fire her. Something about having that kind of power, the ability to make a decision that would at least temporarily have a big impact on a person’s life, made her question her decision, thank goodness.
When I have an opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic as a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator, the first step I take is to describe what I lovingly call the Perception Gap.
That’s the gap between how you THINK you’re being perceived, and how people are ACTUALLY experiencing you.
Stories of Learning and Growth as a Leader
Just like many bosses before him, Rich Gassen was offered a management position without having ever been a manager, and without any training. Fortunate for his employees, he knew what he didn’t know, and took it upon himself to find the resources he needed to learn to do his job and do it well.
In my experience, the worst managers are the ones who think they have nothing to learn, and who don’t see themselves as their employees see them. Many take on the management style of someone they worked for, even if they disliked that manager, and complained often about their poor management and the disconnect with their staff.
But not Rich. Not only did he take advantage of the training opportunities and other resources available to him from his organization, he joined a group of managers that met regularly to share what they knew - and to complain. The dynamic changed in that group when they realized there were many other managers there who didn’t know what resources were available to them, and they decided to open up their informal group to create a more formal, active agency to help all managers improve.
In our conversation, we had a chance to talk about music, one of my favorite topics, of course. Here’s the link Rich promised to share, a song recorded in his time as a vocalist in a rock band called Madcity.
Using Stories to Uncover Our Deeper Connections
We know innately that when we find things in common with each other, we forge deeper connections, but how do we do that with intention and true curiosity? And how do we make this the first part of communication, the priority, so our discussions don’t immediately devolve into defensiveness and hostility?
Zach and I believe that if we understand our own perspectives, where they come from, what we’re reading to bring us to certain conclusions, and why we trust the resources we trust, we could make a start toward better understanding and appreciation for others’ perspectives.
One key to starting those conversations is simply finding common ground, and that can be found in culture. During our conversation in this podcast, we discuss a less traditional definition of culture; lifestyle culture. Are you a dog person? A cat person? Are you part of the mountain biking culture? Each of us can live in many different lifestyle cultures, which makes it much easier to find common ground.
Zach Messler knows a lot about communication strategy, and he uses own cultural commonalities to strengthen his work.
From Zach’s website:
I help entrepreneurs know what to say and how to say it so they make a bigger impact on the world…and their wallets.
So, yeah. I’m on a mission to help entrepreneurs find relevance…and revenue.
In some ways we are definitely impacted by the people we surround ourselves with. At the same time, being friendly and respectful of everyone is our responsibility as human beings.