We engage in relationships every day at home, at work, and everywhere in between. Regardless of the role or roles you play, building effective relationships will often determine the success or failure of your efforts. And yet, how many times do we focus on our own needs without even considering where the other person may be coming from?
Professional speaker, Conni Gordon, showed me “UB4I.” It is “text speak” or a symbol, if you will, that reminds us to think of the needs of the other person (“U”) before you start thinking of yourself (“I”).
I think that many people, if not most people, go into relationships focused on what is in it for them. While that might be an instinctive or reactive motive, the good news is that you can learn to be more conscious about your interactions with others. You can change your focus and build positive relationships by focusing on what you can give rather than what you can take away from a relationship.
As a leader, I doubt if there is any aspect of your work more important than building positive, respectful, and effective relationships. By definition, your job is to get the work done with and through others. Sure, you can adopt the antiquated approach that says “I’m the boss and you’ll do this because I said so!” But in the words of Dr. Phil, I’d like to know, “how’s that workin’ for ya?” The old command and control/management by intimidation approach has gone the way of the dinosaurs, and for good reason.
The way to effectively lead people is through influence.
Influence is built by investing in relationships, cultivating an environment of mutual trust and respect, and valuing others. You certainly can’t build influence by focusing on me, myself, and I. Your best bet is to adopt the UB4I approach, and what a great time to show off your new approach as the new year starts.
How to improve your leadership influence and team relationships in 2018:
- Be open to the suggestions and input of others. Hear them out. Don’t interrupt. Rather than trying to shoot down their ideas, listen for valuable pieces and parts of what they’re suggesting. Sometimes even if you can’t implement their entire plan, you can get some useful tips from them.
- One of the best presents you can give someone is to be fully present. I realize how difficult this can be in our 24-7-connected world. But try to put down the smartphone, slowly back away from it, and really focus on the other person.
- Ask questions of the other person and then, excuse me, but SHUT UP and listen! Just allow the other person to express him/herself. Oh, and by the way, waiting for your turn to speak is not listening!
- Your job should be to help your team members succeed. When team members succeed, everyone wins. Ask, “Is there anything I’m doing that’s getting in the way of your success?”
- When a team member is going through a challenging time, cut him or her some slack when they really need it. Do it because it’s the right, empathetic thing to do, not because you expect something in return. When the crisis has passed, you will likely have a fully engaged, loyal, and devoted team member.
- Your words carry greater weight and influence than you may realize. You should be a wellspring of encouragement to team members. Simply thanking people for their efforts, expressing confidence in their abilities, and focusing on the things that are going right will bolster their determination to get the job done.
Adopting a UB4I approach may just be the best gift you’ve ever given those around you. Try some of these tips and comment on the blog or my social media pages to let us know how they worked.
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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication. In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.