One of the most common complaints I hear from staff about managers and leaders goes like this, “When Jane comes in, she never says 'good morning' or 'hello' to anyone. What’s up with that?” Employees notice this behavior. It often raises questions about their relationship with the leader in-charge, such as, “Does my supervisor care about me? Am I important?” While there are exceptions to every rule, generally, most of us are willing to work harder and better when we know that the person we work for, values us and the work we do.
“Good morning”, or even a brief, “Hi, how are you?” is an acknowledgement of a person’s existence. Acknowledgement is one of the most basic requirements for great leadership. For most of us, greeting staff upon arrival requires little effort. For some of us who have forgotten to take the time over the years to check in, (because we are thinking about all our deadlines, the sick child at home, or whatever!) it may take some practice and getting used to, but it will be worth the effort. Saying hello to your team and asking how they are (with genuine interest) builds relationship capital.
Why should you care? Consider a recent Harvard Business Review blog post by Daniel Goleman, co-author of Primal Leadership: Leading with Emotional Intelligence, and author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights and Leadership: Selected Writings. Goleman writes, “You can be the most brilliant innovator, problem-solver or strategic thinker, but if you can't inspire and motivate, build relationships or communicate powerfully, those talents will get you nowhere. What Zenger and colleagues call the "interpersonal skills" — and what I call social intelligence — are the secret sauce in top-performing leadership.”
He adds, “Why does social intelligence emerge as the make-or-break leadership skill set? For one, leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people.”
So ladies and gentleman in leadership, managers who want to get things done and done well, please don’t forget the basics: Start by saying hello.