Books, blogs and articles abound about leadership. How to craft a vision, be a thought leader, an inspirational leader, a motivational leader. It’s all about the big stuff. Up there, top level strategic stuff. All of course, necessary stuff. Leaders undoubtedly need to know how to determine the strategy, drive their teams to succeed, deliver theresults, manage the organisation day to day.
There also exists a plethora of material on the personal qualities that make a good leader. They talk of authenticity, communication, creativity, gravitas, charisma. The ability to inspire individuals and teams, thought lead, innovate, transform.
For me, when it comes to the personal qualities of leaders, I believe that the little things are just as important. The little things have the power to set you apart from everyone else.
My Father, the most inspirational leader I have ever known, always made the tea (it’s a British thing). He was always the first person in the office each morning. The kettle would be on when the rest of the team arrived and you would find him in the kitchen making a drink for anyone that wanted one. He taught me that you can tell the tea makers in organisations. Who, no matter how senior, would go and make a cuppa for everyone, anyone, else. And you could always tell those managers that would ever bother themselves with such a menial task, thinking that they don’t have the time, or maybe that it’s beneath their status. I still mentally divide people today into tea makers and non-tea makers.
But it’s not just about the routine tasks. It’s about those everyday, little things that your team will notice, appreciate and thank you for. The little things that set you apart.
Remembering a birthday. Knowing the names of your team’s children. Buying a bag of donuts. Making sure someone can get off home early to make sure they get to the school play. Taking the time to stop and chat, check in with the team, no matter how many emails are building up in your in-box. Being really present in a conversation, and not checking the messages on your phone at the same time. Responding quickly to the vacation request form, expenses claim. Helping them solve a problem. Just giving people a little of your real self.
And the most important little thing of all? Saying thank you. Just thank you. For a job well done, a little extra effort, staying over, pitching in, hitting that deadline ahead of schedule.
Two words. Eight letters. Little, certainly. But pretty big at the same time. Lead in the little ways too, every day. Take the time to make a cup that cup of tea of coffee even when you just don’t think you have the time. I promise that your team will appreciate you for it.