Friday, 9 November 2012

Four more years, two (and a bit) great lessons

A lot has been written about Barack Obama's election victory which was sealed in the early hours of Wednesday morning (UK time) and a lot of it has been insightful, educational and wise. Some of it's been funny, some mocking. Some of it's been plain bad. 

I don't want to offer 'X Things Business Can Learn From Obama's Victory/ Romney's Loss' or swamp you with footage that I have analysed and pored over to share a point with you- though I do recommend you take a minute to watch Mitt's gracious concession speech as well as the one I am about to talk about.

This video of the re-elected President speaking to his campaign office workers and volunteers in Chicago made it online last night, and thanks to the 'Obama cries' headline many are tagging it with, it's blazing a trail across the web. 

I watched it first thing and thought "That's good- it's nice to show appreciation to people who've kept faith in you." I rewatched it just now with my 19 year old daughter who cut to the chase pretty quickly. 

"That's what's missing in too many leaders: that humanity. That's why people hate most politicians."

Inspired by this (and knowing it's also why people disengage from their leaders at work) I offer two lessons from this video.


When did you last say thank you to a colleague or employee properly? Not just a 'cheers' or 'yeah, great', but a real look 'em in the eyes heartfelt 'Thank You'? When did you last tell them they made a difference? What do you think the effect would be on their connection to you and the business if you did this more?

Conversations we have with many employees show that even when things are good, if they haven't been shown any recognition, they feel their efforts aren't appreciated and all the great stuff that's happening isn't felt. The single biggest issue we hear about is this: "Nobody ever says Thank You around here."

In business we know that a successful transaction is nice, but repeat business is what we really want. If someone helps you or does a great job, tell them. They'll be more likely to help you again. So when you complete one task, secure future business; it takes a moment to seal the deal with a proper, genuine Thank You.


Working with someone who doesn't share isn't much fun. Relations between leaders and colleagues who never share an emotional connection rarely thrive. I do not suggest you pour your heart out to everyone at work, but by sharing a little of yourself you show what drives you, what antagonises you, what you love and what you need. Done well, this can create a better understanding between colleagues and enables better working relationships to flourish. 

Not everyone can be a natural comedian, but you don't have to be a cold fish either. Of course there's a time for emotional distance- but every day is not it.

The last little tip I will share to wrap up the whole election thing is this: if you're a sore loser going public, be sure to get your facts right.

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