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Leadership ‒ Seeing People In Their Complexities

Written by: Santarvis Brown, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

No one ever said leadership was easy. Well, at least not anyone with a clue about how to lead effectively. Being a good leader takes time, dedication, and the ability to admit when you’re wrong. More than anything, today’s leaders must be able to connect with their employees on a “human level”. This means talking about their goals and the issues going on in their life that might impact their performance as well as their professional and personal strengths and weaknesses. Leaders don’t have to be personally invested in the private lives of their employees, of course, but they should be able to connect with them via more than work quality and met deadlines.

Business people working with charts and graphs on glass wall.

I know firsthand how difficult it can be to shift your thinking from placing more importance on a business than a person. Over the years, however, I’ve come to understand that the true measure of a company’s success is its employees. I’m writing this to help you focus on people, in all of their complexities, rather than as one-dimensional employees whose strengths and weaknesses are often ignored.


What are “complexities” and how do I see them?


Don’t worry if the idea of seeing complexities is confusing. This isn’t something many leaders, especially those from a decade or three back, are used to considering. The term “complexities” refers to the things in life that aren’t neat and tidy.


Consider an employee you see every day but know very little about. To you, their entire life might as well be lived in the office, because once they’re out of it, they almost don’t exist to you. I don’t mean this in a horrible way, but rather to illustrate the “I’m only concerned with your value as an employee, not necessarily your value as an individual person” that is so prevalent in the business world.


Now let’s say you get to know that employee a little bit more. You learn a bit about their family, their goals, and the struggles and triumphs they have had. They are no longer able to be neatly boxed at the end of the day. You have begun to understand the complexities that drive them.


As for how you “see” complexities, the best advice I can give you is to reach out to your team and talk to them about their lives. You don’t have to be pushy or ask for a lot of detail – just talk about your own family or goals and ask them about theirs. Become an empathetic leader interested in your employees’ success and well-being, and you will be surprised how quickly you come to know their complexities.


Building a tight-knit, functional team might not be easy (at least at first), but there are few things as rewarding or valuable to your long-term success.


Visit Santarvis on his LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more information.


 

Santarvis Brown, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Santarvis Brown has spent 15+ years serving as a leader, innovator, and changemaker in education, showcasing in-depth insight as an administrator, educator, and program director. A noted speaker, researcher, and full professor, he has lent his speaking talent to many community and educational forums, serving as a keynote speaker. He has also penned several publications tackling issues in civic service, faith, leadership, and education.

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