One of the most important lessons every executive must learn is to never underestimate the impact of their words and actions on their employees.
I was listening to a podcast recently where the guest was a famous celebrity. He spoke about how he learned a valuable lesson many years ago. When fans started recognizing him in public and would approach to ask for a picture or autograph, he found that he could respond two different ways – each response producing a different result. He could interact graciously and with kindness. In turn, that fan would feel special, and be left with excitement and a positive experience. Or, he could respond with indignation, leaving the fanto believe they had violated his space, or had been an annoyance. This approach elicited feelings ranging from sadness to anger, with the fan likely regretting the encounter.
This celebrity learned he was solely responsible – through his response, actions and words – for creating either a positive experience ora negative experience with those who admired or respected him.
Executives have a similar power to influence encounters, provided by their position within an organization. How they communicate with others or respond to situations will set the tone within an organization. More importantly, how executives respond to employee interactions will determine how well these individuals perform their jobs, treat others, or and even their decision to remain with the company or seek other employment.
I recall instances where I have had a brief conversation with an employee, and later learned that my comments or actions were not well received. In almost every instance, I came to understand my comments were lacking or my attitude was not at its best. Maybe I considered a question to be silly, I had more pressing matters to consider, or simply heard something that left me questioning the intent of a comment. Regardless, my response is what was remembered and that left a lasting impression on the person.
Being the boss comes with a number of responsibilities and expectations. This includes always being conscious of how your actions and comments may be interpreted by others within the company. The individual who can be like the celebrity and use every interaction to make those around them feel both special and heard, will find themselves moving from being “the boss” to becoming a true leader within their organization.