This is part 3 of my current series where I am taking a closer look at each of the attributes outlined three weeks ago that make up an ideal team player: humble, hungry and smart.  Last week we took a deeper dive into “hungry” and how to spot that quality in our company.   

  • The third virtue or quality to discuss is smart.  Smart does not refer to book smart; it refers to people smart.  In business this is also known as someone’s EQ or emotional intelligence.  Smart refers to how well people get along with others.  Does this person have conflict with others or can they work in any situation?  You don’t have to get along with everyone that you work with, but you must be able to unite for the common goal / mission to get the job done.  Smart people are able to get the best out of other team members.  Smart people learn not to take comments that others make personally.  They can adapt to others and spin most interactions into a positive interaction. 
  • One habit that creates enormous impact is to have a genuine interest in others.  People don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care.  Leadership is about influence, not about position.  If you can build real relationships with those around you, your influence elevates.  This is true both for our guests as well as our team members.  If you build a relationship with a guest, they will give you the benefit of the doubt if something is amiss during a visit.  With no relationship, they will most likely take it personally and never return.  The same is true with a team member.  If all you have is power or position over a team member, they will not listen to what you say once you leave the room.  If you have influence, they will follow your directions even when you are not in the building.  I feel that one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a manager is if you do not treat your team members as good as your guests. 
  • Along these lines is the idea of empathy.  A smart person can demonstrate empathy by understanding how and why someone is feeling a certain way.  They can talk to that person and show that they really care about that person.  They can alter their leadership style at certain times based on the temperature of the people in the room.  A manager that can only lead one way cannot connect with everyone.  A smart person understands how to really communicate with everyone.  People that lack empathy get annoyed by others and don’t try to take the time to understand and learn why someone is acting a certain way.    
  • One of the best ways to improve your empathy skills is to become a better listener.  One of the best ways to become a better listener is to ask follow up questions that dig a little deeper into the subject.  This helps others feel that you really do care and that you are interested in what they have to say.  People’s favorite subject is themselves.  Try not to cut people off when they are talking.  Don’t spend all of your time figuring out what you are going to say next.  Don’t try to one up them by talking about your life.  One of the easiest ways to do this is simply say “tell me more” about ____.     
  • Smart people are also very good communicators.  Along the line of communication comes coaching and giving feedback.  Smart people can coach and give feedback in a way that is not resentful.  Having influence and making sure that others know that you care about them helps feedback become helpful to others, not hurtful.  I wanted to touch on the 5 to 1 rule one more time.  I think that this is key to keeping any relationship in positive territory.  For every one time you need to coach or give negative feedback, you need to make sure that you praise or give positive feedback at least 5 times to that person.  Over the past few months since I have learned about this technique I find myself looking for positives on a regular basis.  Think about relationships in your life.  Which ones make you feel good about yourself?  The ones with positive interactions always make me feel like a better person. 
  • The final tip to help spot a smart person is to ask yourself the question.  Would you want to work for this person?  Most smart people come across to others as a type of person that they like and that they would want to work for someday.  This is a new question that we have added to our 2nd interview process.  This is a question that I ask myself when I look at our general managers and potential mentor candidates.   
  • I hope that it has been worth your time reading about these three qualities over the past few weeks.  As hiring, training and retaining is one of our key priorities I felt it was important to dig a little deeper on this subject.  I think that there is some real magic to this formula as it relates to building a better team.  

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