"I am human, only because you are human."
African Proverb/Allan Boesak

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 430

Estimated reading time:  3.15 minutes


Good afternoon from the Maple Leaf Lounge at Calgary Airport. I am enroute home after a great couple of days with Alberta’s credit union’s young leaders and the Alberta Central conference. I’ve had a great time, and as always, have come away with something to reflect on.


A theme we explored at the conference was the impact of tech on financial institutions. One comment about tech and marketing caught my ear. One of the interesting directions that tech has driven marketing, is to move us from the mass marketing (blanket the TV and radio airwaves with commercials and hope that someone who is interested will be watching/listening), through market segmentation (address those commercials to specific groups of people based on what they are watching or listening to) to the emerging ability to focus marketing on the individual (we know that Alisdair likes looking at Youtube videos of sharks swimming so we’ll put an ad into his Facebook page about Hawai’an vacations followed by an ad about shark repellent.) 


It got me thinking about how are leadership thinking has changed as well. We imagined employees as parts of a machine, then we thought, there’s a little more humanity than just being a cog, so we’ll focus our efforts on leading groups and teams, and what do we know now? The most important factor in employee productivity is their relationship with their immediate supervisor. It’s all about the individual.


Here are three elements to keep in mind then as you lead people as individuals:


  1. Without trust there is nothing; and trust is built and enhanced by trusting and being trustworthy.
  2. Balance advocacy with inquiry. Yes, you have a point, but more to the point, the person across the table from you has a point. Listen to their point. (That is a fun word to type.) In the old adage from Steven Covey, seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
  3. Face to face (whenever possible) is always better. We are wired to read facial cues and so our ability to understand and enter into dialogue with each other is exponentially better when we are face to face.



The best leaders I know and work with are the people who see other people as discrete and fascinating individuals. They connect with compassion and interest in the well being of other individuals and create an environment when and where those individuals can thrive. May we all strive for that this week.