When talking about what you and the people you work with, how do you refer to them? Do you say, “I work with Johnny…” or “Johnny works for me.”? The distinction might seem small but it is so important. If you are really a team, then you should refer to them truly as collaborators. Relaying the value of your team in even this small way can speak volumes about what kind of leader you are. More importantly, the difference can be indicative of how you truly feel about them and interact with them as a leader.
Recently I caught myself saying one of my best employees worked for me. Immediately after the words left my mouth, I thought about the impact of that statement and how it didn’t really reflect her contributions to the successes of the institution we work for, or to our individual successes as professionals. More importantly, I thought about what she would think if she had heard me refer to her that way? Would she notice? Maybe not, but why take that chance?
As a leader, it is important to take even the smallest opportunity to show the value of your teams to others. These small tokens build trust and foster relationships beyond supervisor and subordinate. In a previous blog, I talked about the benefit of bringing different types of employees to the table. What I didn’t mention is how to continue to foster these collaborations through maintaining trust. This gesture helps to do just that.
In another blog on recognition and appreciation, I discussed the importance of giving genuine recognition and doing it for the right reasons. Making sure you are aware of the manner in which you refer to your teammates in any setting is a subtle nod to this. It shows you are mindful of your impact and are aware that words matter. Hopefully they will see you behaving this way and follow suit, setting off a cascade of free recognition throughout your organizations.
Show your team the respect they have earned and make sure they know you are truly with them and committed to their success. Drop me a comment to tell me some other examples of these tiny gestures and subtle ways you are working together!