Four Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Out of Sync with Your Team

I’m often asked, “How do I get people on my team to listen and actually go along with what we’re trying to accomplish as a team?”  

I get this question from Millennials in leadership positions tasked with leading people older than them – Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.  I also get this question from Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers tasked with leading Millennials.  

Having been in your shoes, and in many ways, I’m still right there with you, facing the same challenges. Here’s what I’ve learned and here’s what works.

(And it doesn’t matter what generation people are from, because as it turns out, people are people. We’re all human beings. So if you’re feeling disconnected, start there. Remind yourself, they’re a human being just like you…)  

There are four questions you can ask yourself, as the leader in the situation, when you’re out of sync with your team.

  1. Have I spent enough time connecting with this person or these people on my team?
  2. Have I made a conscious effort to serve this person or these people on my team?
  3. Have I carved out time engaging with this person or these people on my team?
  4. Have I taken it upon myself to either share stories or create experiences to inspire this person or these people on my team?

I’ve numbered these on purpose.  The order in which you put each of these tactics into play is as important as actually following through with any of them.

Here’s the reason the order is important:

  • Few people will accept your acts of service until they’ve first connected with you, to understand that you really are in this to help them as opposed to simply serving your own needs. 
  • Even fewer people will allow you to engage with them, let alone engage back in meaningful conversation with you, until they’ve seen you take action, serving them and helping them solve their own problems instead of merely using them as a tool in solving your own problems.
  • Even fewer people will take the time to listen to your inspirational stories, let alone share stories of their own, until they feel comfortable enough with you; having first engaged in genuine, meaningful conversation.  

Conversations build trust, and trust becomes the gateway to influencing, inspiring, or motivating anyone to do anything.

Leadership is about connecting with and inspiring other people to do more, become more, and ultimately deliver their absolute best.

Remember that before anyone becomes compelled to do anything, they first must feel. Among our first jobs, as leaders, is to make sure our teams feel welcome, comfortable, and important. 

Then and only then will they open up, step up, and lean in to delivering their best work.

If you’re out of sync with your team or your customers, take personal accountability and ask yourself:

  • Do I need to connect more?
  • Do I need to serve more?
  • Do I need to engage more?
  • Do I need to inspire more?

Challenge yourself to take a timeout, assess where you are, and most importantly, where they are. Take a few steps toward them, and meet them where they are:

Connect, and they’ll be open to letting you serve them.

Serve, and they’ll begin to realize you’re different.  You’re in this for them, not against them.

Engage, and they’ll open up to you, letting you in with more frequent and meaningful conversations with you (but about them); building trust along the way.

Inspire, and they’ll want to hear more stories about what you’ve learned and how your lessons can also help them today and, in their future, personally and professionally.

This is leadership. This is leading with hospitality.

Have a great day.