Being a good leader goes beyond just having regularly scheduled 1:1s, approving PTOs, or hosting Friday lunches. It’s much more than just knowing if someone is married, has kids, or loves their dog (which most people should – I would hope). It’s about knowing the individual as a person, what drives them, what are their passions and goals, their values, and where do they want to be in five or 10 years. What makes them – them. You see, understanding the individual first, and their personal and professional growth trajectory, is key to building an environment where team members thrive.
There are a few key components to understanding your team members:
- What motivates them in their personal life?
- Where do they see themselves growing professionally, short term and long?
- What values characteristics drive them?
- What do they want for their personal growth?
Let’s use a few examples:
Tiffani was born in Michigan and lives in Ohio with Max, her boyfriend of 8 years (yes we know, 8 years… we are already teasing/harassing him about that😊). She loves to do CrossFit and is an Olympic weightlifter. She has a dog, Milo, whom she loves dearly, and does agility training with weekly. She and Max love to be outdoors, and her idea of a vacation is a rustic cabin in the woods with all sorts of fun activities. But more importantly, she wants financial independence. She has bought her own home, at a fairly young age, she manages her finances well, and is looking for opportunities to invest. She does DIY home projects and wants to one day lead a huge events team. She will make an impact.
Todd is a Navy veteran. Originally from Buffalo and now living in Raleigh, NC, he enjoys his life with his beautiful dog Ms. Lucy. He owns his own home, has multiple cars, and is a social butterfly. His family means a lot to him, and he’s closest to his sister Jill. He loves evening walks with Lucy, his cameras and tech equipment, and getting together with family and friends. He’s a man in the know, and always tries to help others. For him, relationships matter. His ability to add value to people matters. He wants to bring joy to others and works hard to lift people up.
Rency is an independent woman. She is a daughter, sister, and friend, but what she values most is her independence. She is a caretaker for her family, and dreams of one day buying a car and having a home next door to her best friend. She loves her sisters and nieces, wears wonderful hair pieces, and is a die-hard Swiftie (and if you don’t know what that means, you must be living under a rock). She worries about people and takes care of everyone – AND I MEAN EVERYONE. She values her work and takes pride in what she does.
Gina is a mom, and lives with her husband and son in an apartment in a suburb of Chandigarh. She has been with ITBD for almost a decade and has grown up with us. She loves her work, and takes pride in ITBD as her organization. She is truly our cheerleader. She has strong family values, loves shopping and fashion, and has Jennifer Anniston level hair. She values loyalty and has a strong work ethic. She brings laughter and joy to those around her, but also expects results. Her ability to contribute to her home matters, and she has ambition and goals. She never dreamed she would be where she is today, but she is hungry to do more.
We call Alaukik our slacker, but he is anything but that. He is a man that loves his wife, his sister and nephew, is still afraid of his Dad, and knows the importance of family and friends. He works hard, knows his worth, and helps others to achieve their goals. He loves his dog, Jack, and is compassionate to all living things. He takes pride in his work and will find solutions to problems he may never have worked on previously. He values people, camaraderie, and friendship. He likes a good drink, to party with friends, and let’s be honest, is a passable dancer. But most importantly, he does good work, and takes pride in what he does. To him, money is second, people matter first.
I could go on and on about every team member’s life, what they value, and what values define them. What are their goals for their personal and professional lives, and what makes them tick. You see, because I know this, I know how to lead them better, what will make an impact in their lives, and how to help them grow.
I know all of this because we take the time to get to know our teams. We think beyond what they bring to our organization, we think about what we can add to their lives. Whether it’s our Career Development framework, Life By Design weekly sessions, their future Life Plans – we have taken the time to get to know the “whole” team member, and with that, we are able to lead them better, and hopefully, well.
For more content like this, be sure to follow IT By Design on LinkedIn and YouTube, check out our on-demand learning platform, Build IT University, and be sure to register for Build IT LIVE, our 3-day education focused conference, September 18 –20 in Orlando, FL!