Would you work for this person?
It’s a simple question. It’s one I often ask in reference calls on founding teams. During one of those calls, when I should have been paying attention to the answer, I posed my self a similar question. What is it about a person that would make me leap to work for them?
Intellect, ethics, ambition, conviviality, mastery, ethusiasm come to mind. But, those are subordinate characteristics. What’s the one thing?
For me, it’s someone who makes others around them feel bigger. Someone who builds people up, guides them through positivity, provides perspective in an affirming way. In other words, a great teacher.
This week, I experienced two leaders whose styles couldn’t be further apart.
In the first, a person of tremendous power and influence, said hello, started a conversation, and asked me some questions. The goal of these questions was to make the asker feel better and make me feel small. I could imagine in the workplace, this distancing could motivate certain people.
In the second, a CEO seized a moment when he saw that I could have felt small, shared a story with me one-on-one that resonated, and from nothing created a teaching moment. Carving out that time to make me feel understood.
Both of these types of leaders can achieve sensational success in business. Work long enough in any industry and any job, and you’re bound to experience each style as an employee.
Richard Hamming said something to the effect of, “the difference between an average person and a great one is style.”
So from now on, my follow up question to “Would you work for this person?” is “What is this person’s management style?”
What’s the one reason you would work for someone?