Being smart and decisive are essential characteristics of leadership, but it’s the little things that create motivated and inspired followers. Patrick Veroneau explains that these “little things” refer to how we behave towards others. Being a good listener, having empathy, giving others a sense of belongingness, and appreciating others are examples of the little things we can do that change everything. As leaders, it is our responsibility to impact the people who look up to us not only during working hours but even beyond when they go home to their families. Listen to this episode and learn how you can apply the little things to your leadership style! Remember, people may forget what you said, but they will never forget what you made them feel.
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Great Leaders Leverage “The Little Things”
The topic of this episode is about leadership as it relates to the little things, and the little things are the big things as it relates to followers. I know there’s a lot of talk out there about the importance of critical thinking and decisiveness, and don’t get me wrong, those things are very important in regards to effective leadership. It’s the little things that will create motivated and inspired followers, not how smart you are. It will come back to how well do you behave toward others? That’s going to make the difference in terms of your effectiveness as a leader. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to go where you want them to go, without that, but they’re certainly not going to be inspired or want to do it. That’s what this episode is about. I’m not only obsessed with interviewing those that have inspired others to do great things through their own actions, but also in uncovering the research that demonstrates that we all have the ability to lead like no other. It starts with ourselves because when we lead like no other, we will succeed like no other. Let’s get into it.Be the reason someone smiles today. Click To Tweet
I’ve been thinking about this episode and it is the result of an inspirational quote that I read or wrote an article about. The quote came from a Christmas gift that my son gave me, which was a jar filled with 31 days of motivational quotes or inspirational quotes. Each time I’ve pulled one of these out and read it, I’ve done a journal entry on it that I posted online with a picture of the actual quote. The reason that I’ve done that as I’ve looked at these and thought and some people might be thinking, “What are inspirational quotes have to do with effective leadership?” I would argue that they have everything to do with it because leadership doesn’t exist without followers, and followers don’t exist without inspiration. The one that stood out to me was I read, “Be the reason someone smiles today.”
I thought that is so simple, yet so elegant. What I mean by that, is that it is the little things that make all the difference. It’s not the critical thinking and the ability to be decisive, again important that’s going to inspire people for the most part because I can have high intelligence, very good at critical thinking, I can be very decisive. If either of those are done in a way that is disrespectful to those that are following me, disruptive, lacks any type of care, or demonstration of goodwill toward them, then yes, maybe they will follow where I’m asking them to go only because they feel like they have to, but it’s not going to be the same.
As leaders and managers, we have such a responsibility, especially in a work environment where those people that report to us, we impact not only their time on the job with us, but when they go home. It doesn’t end there, because if I have a leader, manager who doesn’t treat me in the right way, that makes me feel stressed out, threatened or bullied, that goes home with me. My kids, my spouse, my significant other, and my friends feel that. That stays with me. I know because I’ve been in those situations before where I felt that and my family felt it, where I might be traveling with a manager, and three days before I’m going to travel with this individual, I start getting headaches and start feeling stressed out. I’m on edge because I know what’s coming, all because of the behaviors I knew that I was going to experience. It is such a responsibility that you take on when you have other people follow you.When we lead like no other, we will succeed like no other. Click To Tweet
What are those qualities? What are those little things that make all the difference? There are a few that I’ve listed. One is listening, the other is empathy, belongingness, and the last is around appreciation. We talk first about listening in terms of the little things that when we truly demonstrate that we are listening to somebody else, the impact that that has on that individual is that it allows them to feel as though you’re invested in them. That you’re truly trying to understand their perspective. In a lot of the workshops that I do, the leadership training that I’m involved with, the coaching, when I talk about listening, I talk about it as though it’s a superpower. I then talk about it in terms of four different approaches.
Leadership is about listening with our eyes and that’s body language, facial expressions, being able to recognize, understand and read those on other people. The next is listening with our ears, tone of voice, words that are said, specific words that are being used. There’s an image that I will put up of noise-canceling headphones when I talk about listening in a PowerPoint or in a talk. The reason I do that is because, to me, when we listen to somebody else, if we can imagine that we have noise-canceling headphones on, when we do that, why do we have noise-canceling headphones on in the first place? It’s to drown out everything else so that only what we want to hear is what we’re listening to through those headsets.
If we can think about it that way in terms of how we listen to somebody else, think of what that does for the other person like, “When I’m locked in on you. I’m listening to you and I’m canceling out everything else that’s on around me, it’s you and I. I’m listening.” The next is listening with my mind, and that is rather than jumping to conclusions, it’s about listening on a level of asking the question. “Is what they’re saying, what I think I’m hearing or what they mean?” I clarify that. The last part of this four-way listening, is around listening with the heart, and that’s listening in a way that says, “If the roles were reversed, how would I want them to be listening to me?” When we do that, we’ll find out that we may listen much more intently if we can put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and say, “How would I want to be listened to right now?” It changes things.It's the little things that make all the difference. Click To Tweet
The next is empathy, and just like listening with the heart, listening with empathy is about being empathetic toward another person, trying to put myself in their shoes. “How would I want to be treated if I were them? What if this was me? What if it was my first role in the company? What if I was the one that had made the mistake? How would I want to be treated? Will I be given the benefit of the doubt? What would that look like?” Questioning that from the other person’s perspective. It’s interesting because empathy, I still hear at times is one of these that seems a little too weak, and, “If I’m empathetic, I’m going to be taken advantage of,” and I say, that’s BS.
The person that says that is the person that’s insecure in their own ability to lead. If you can’t demonstrate a sense of vulnerability in yourself, to me, it says more about your own lack of confidence in who you are than the other person. I can promise you, you clearly can be decisive and direct and hold people accountable, yet also be compassionate and empathetic for them as well. Not only can you, you have to. Empathy is not a nice-to-have in leadership. It is a need-to-have behavior. The next one moving on is around belongingness and this is creating a sense of connection that as a leader, as somebody that has people report to me that role, “If I can create an environment where they feel part of the team or part of the group, they feel connected when I do that.”
This is a person that’s more engaged, more inspired, more motivated, and there’s ample research that demonstrates the impact that belongingness has on team structure, organizational structure, and personal wellbeing. When we don’t feel as though we belong, it puts us in a high sense of stress. Some of the negative impacts of lack of belongingness go all the way back to individuals that commit suicide. It is believed that there is a connection there. Those that feel as though there’s no connection with others are more likely if they’re in that place to commit suicide.
If we go back thousands of years, and I’ve mentioned this before, the worst thing you could do is vote somebody outside of the tribe. That was a death sentence. People couldn’t survive out in the wild without that core group of individuals that you watched over each other. Fast forward to now, I would argue that, that is no different, it is still a death sentence. It’s a different death, but it is still a death when we’re voted outside of the group, when we’re ostracized whether at work, school, or at home.
The last behavior that I’ll talk about in terms of the little things that are the big things, is appreciation. As a leader, as a manager, when we take the time to recognize other people for what they do or who they are, that has a huge impact on who they become because what it demonstrates to the person is, “I am interested in you and I’ve recognized certain things and I want to make you aware of them.” It lets people know that.
Those are the four little behaviors that create huge, massive results in regards to inspiring those around you to follow your lead. There are certainly others, those are the four that I’m going to mention for this episode. As I close this out, a reflection that I have is based on a quote by Maya Angelou, where she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That last part goes back to the small inspirational quote that I read in the beginning of this, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” If you think about that in regards to what Maya Angelou said, people will never forget how you made them feel, and smiling does not happen without positive feeling. As you go out into your workday or back to your family, your significant other or community, what are the little things that you can do that will create massive results? You truly do make a difference based on how you behave toward others.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. If you know somebody you think would enjoy reading this, I’d ask that you forward it on to them. If you haven’t already subscribed, please go ahead and subscribe. That’s how this message continues to get out there. It would mean the world to me, if you’d leave a rating or a comment on this or any other episode because again, that’s how the message continues to get put out there. I’ve had some very heartwarming comments that have been made. If you’re interested in hearing more about what I do, you can follow me on Instagram, @CoachPatrickV, or you can reach out to me on my website at, EmeryLeadershipGroup.com. I love getting emails as well, my email address is, Patrick@EmeryLeadershipGroup.com. Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to do two things. One is lead like no other, and the other is to rise above your best.