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With leadership it’s the little things that matter

Source |  | By|Michelle Gibbings 

Recently, I was at Virgin’s airport lounge in Sydney waiting to catch a plane back to Melbourne, and at the same time Richard Branson was in the lounge saying hello to guests and chatting with staff.

Apparently, he does that every time he is in town. No doubt he’s busy, but he finds the time to do it because he knows that taking the time for people matters.

It also has direct business benefits because it makes the employees feel good about working at Virgin, and it makes the customers feel appreciated and therefore pleased that they chose to fly Virgin.

It’s an easy thing to do, but not all leaders make the time.

I contrast Richard Branson’s actions with a CEO I use to work with who if he walked past you in the corridor would actively avoid eye contact so that he didn’t have to interact with employees. The message it sent was that he wasn’t interested and couldn’t be bothered making the effort.

Being a leader can be hard at times, and yet there are also many times that it can be incredibly easy.

Everyone wants to feel they matter and to be acknowledged, and as a leader there are lots of small steps you can take – every day – to build connection and engagement with the people you work with.

Here are some simple practices you can build into your daily routine.

(And yes, I agree many of these actions shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but it is surprising how much of this can get missed when you are busy, stressed and rushing from meeting to meeting.)

  1. Be friendly and greet people when you come in to work in the morning. A simple ‘hello’ can go a long way and it only takes a few seconds
  2. Take an interest in the people you work with at a personal level. Find out what matters to them and ask them about their interests, family and other events that are important to them
  3. Whether you work in open plan or an office, take the time regularly to wander the floor and check in on how people are doing
  4. On occasions, rather than send an email make the request or response in person; remembering, there are times when it is a faster way to action a piece of work
  5. Respond to all emails and phone calls from people you work with, and if time doesn’t permit this then have someone in your team who can respond on your behalf, or you have delegated the action to. When you ignore someone’s request for help or advice you are setting the standard that it’s ok to ignore people you work with

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