“Attitude is everything.”
You know the old accolade, “Attitude is everything.” It’s true. I have worked the majority of my adult life alone. Sure, I collaborated with other sub-contractors, had to deliver to clients, and attend meetings but the day-to-day was just me. I liked it that way. I only had to motivate myself. But one cannot build a successful corporation all by themselves. It takes a team of talented people to build an empire. I realized that several years ago. I decided to stop being a consultant and start leading a company as a CEO.
I must admit I had no idea what I was considering. I thought I was more than qualified. I collaborated with many CEO’s over the years. I certainly knew about the technology industry, so I had nothing to worry about, right? In all my planning before launching into my new role, and all the variables I considered, I thought I was more than ready.
Then I started working with assistants, employees, and co-executives. I quickly learned something about myself, of which I was completely unaware. It took several years and many meetings where I was on the defensive, to learn what I consider to be one of the most important lessons of my life. I was unpleasant to work with. Really – I started feeling bad for those around me. I was totally unaware of this before it was pointed out to me.
It was a long road of personal change and discovering why I was unpleasant – the details of that journey are for another blog. Fast forward to today. I still can be moody at times, and I am learning how to lead people everyday. But through my journey, I learned the power of being pleasant to work with. I have seen first-hand how this can be an ingredient for effective leadership. I see the results, as many highly profitable activities being are accomplished on a day-to-day basis – being a pleasant leader results in productivity. Most importantly, I see the trust being built from those I lead and partner with. Without the trust of our subordinates and our co-executives, we as leaders will never be successful.
I have seen, and continue to see the power of being pleasant at work. But it is a process – taking one day at a time. Below are some key things that I focus on, and utilize to become someone that is pleasant to work with.
1) Identify a person you find pleasant, and model yourself after them.
For me, there is no one more pleasant to work with then Magi’s CTO, and Ikkyo’s President Yuki Hayashi. Circumstances don’t matter. He could have had no sleep the night before (which happens often), he could have the flu, he could being going through a personal crisis, it does not matter. He is always kind and patient. You leave with the sense that he authentically cares for you. I may never be able to achieve that level of pleasantness, but he is my inspiration and someone I look to as I work on my personal goal.
2) Be quick to listen, and slow to speak.
This is very difficult for me. I am originally from New York – I was raised in the northeast my whole life, and we speak loudly, fast, and a lot. I’ve learned that a person who genuinely listens, genuinely cares. That is a pleasant person to work with.
3) Strive to understand instead of being understood.
This ties in with number 2. Again, when I see someone is trying to really understand where I am coming from, it leaves me with a sense that I being respected and cared for. As a leader, when people come to you, really take the time to understand where they are coming from – and see the positive results take place.
4) Be quick to smile.
I know it may sound over simplistic. But a smile does go a long way.