One Way a Leader Avoids the Us versus Them Mentality
My boss cared enough about staying connected that he set up a system to do it.
Many of us have a hard time remembering names and details about the people we lead. We meet them. We ask them questions about their families, their education, or their careers. But it is hard to remember all those details an hour later - let alone a week or a month later. As a leader, the larger your team gets, the harder it is to stay connected to the individuals you are called to lead.
Some leaders stop trying. They see it as an impossible task and revert to having superficial conversations with people. The problem is that those people also know they are superficial, and therefore feel more distant from the senior leader. When the distance increases between the senior leadership and the people around them, the Us vs Them mentality becomes an issue. Instead of one team, there are the executives and then everyone else. But my boss Rich developed a system to stay connected and prevented that from happening in his large team.
Just like many sales organizations, Rich’s company had a CRM for their customers. But, Rich had the same thing for the people he led. He kept track of the names of spouses and kids. He jotted down where people went to school and their personal interests. He even made quick bullet points about his most recent conversations with those people so he could remember them the next time. Rich would scribble his notes and his executive assistant would type them into the system. That system worked for him.
When he was at regional offices, he had reviewed these profiles and was able to connect at a personal level with the people there. Everyone was amazed at his ability to remember details about them. They felt like they knew him, and they were known by him.
What they didn’t know was that it was his system that helped him be a servant leader. He wasn’t a genius with names and personal details. He just cared about connecting personally with the people on the front lines, so he became intentional about it. He set up a system that would prevent that group from separating into two groups that were disconnected from each other.