I recently read an article online from a professor I had in college. I really respected and enjoyed him. He set a great example and had a great deal of influence on his students. One reason he gained respect was because he treated each student as an individual.
One day, I went to him after a class and asked him a question concerning an observation I‘d made about the material being covered. We had a great conversation. He listened to my observations, questioned me about my reasoning and challenged me to continue checking out that train of thought. When he gave me the challenge I laughed! I was a father of two; working full-time; going to school full-time, and trying hard to keep up. I had no time for any ‘side’ interests. What he did next made a dramatic influence on my life. It is an incident I remember clearly.
He asked if I would be willing to forego the regular class assignments and continue my studies redirected toward the line of thinking and questions I’d presented in our short meeting. I was elated! He was more interested in my learning, than in fulfilling his syllabus requirements. He realized I was more interested in what I’d brought to him than in the regular assignments. I felt like he was more interested in me than those assignments. In fact, he was.
I worked harder on following my new course of study than if I had done what the syllabus required. It was worth it. He worked harder, too. I had to have special treatment because my assignments were different. I’ve wondered how many lives he’s influenced positively by caring more about his students’ learning, than his course requirements.
Leadership isn’t a road map every follower has to follow. Leadership cares about the followers and treats them as individuals. The leader cares for each. That caring comes through when it comes from the core of the leader. Great leaders care. They don’t try to care, they really do care.
Points to Ponder –
Can you name each individual on your team by their first and last name? Give at least three bits of personal information for each one.
How do you react when a team member has a different point of view or chases a tangent; follows a pipe dream? How can treating your team members as individuals help you get better results in every situation?