“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).”
– Jim Swanson, from Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management
A big part of being a more human leader is showing respect – for the people you lead, and for the jobs that they do.
It should be a very natural thing to do, BECAUSE it’s such a human thing.
There are circumstances that really test this kind of leadership, and the most interesting thing about them is that they occur outside the workplace.
That is, they take place in everyday life.
You can learn so much about more human leadership by spending time in restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets, and retail stores. Just watch the interactions between the customer service providers and the customers.
You can easily see if the customers respect the person and the work, by the way they treat the customer service staff.
Let’s use a very Portland example (since I live here) – the espresso shop. The popular ones typically have long lines, and the baristas and counter staff are usually very busy. Because of this, mistakes can happen. An order may be misunderstood, or sometimes, misplaced. The milk may be too cold, or too hot. Or, it could be the wrong milk.
When problems occur, the “more humans” I observe take them in stride – they understand. They even try to make light of the situation, or express empathy to the staff person. And even more likely, they address the staff by their first names.
How did they know that? They took the time to find out – that’s a real sign of respect.
They made a personal connection. And, on top of everything else, they use words like “please” and “thank you”, and leave gratuities.
Those people pass the test, because if they exhibit this behavior at an espresso shop, it’s going to be the same way in the workplace. For me, that rule never fails.
The bonus of all this applies both in the espresso bar AND the workplace – that personal connection leads to better performance.
In the workplace, your respect translates to a more motivated and inspired teammate, because they respect you.
At the espresso bar, your respect translates to higher quality service, because they respect you.
I know this because I’m on a first name basis with many baristas in town – a good many of whom I now call my friends. They make sure I have the right drink, at the right size, and at the right temperature. I’ve invested in their well being, and they in turn take the time to invest in mine.
We chat about our lives, our days, and our families. We are both more human.
And if I’m in a leadership situation, I’m the same way. More human.
Take the time to watch more customer and customer service provider interactions in your daily life, and see who passes the more human leadership test.
And then see if YOU pass the test.
(For more interesting reading about this, and to see all of Jim Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management, check out this great article from USA Today)
(Photo by Bigstock)