Have you ever wondered if you get positive energy and engagement from those around you due to YOUR approach and attitude or does it just naturally happen? Is the converse true sometimes that you find others tougher to connect with, tentative or not as engaged? Did you ever wonder if it really is all about “YOU get what YOU give?
About 10 years ago I was managing the Morgan Stanley engagement for Keane in Canada as a Global Engagement Manager. That was the first time I met Tom, who was in charge of recruiting for the account.
Tom is a very high energy, passionate and compelling person. I knew the minute I met him – that I had met somebody special. Thanks to the miracle of social media, he and I have stayed in touch since those days. We are both pretty active on LinkedIn and Facebook. Even though we have not spent much time together in person – I find him to be a consistent and positive influence in my life.
A while ago, Tom was in town and we were able to get together for dinner. We talked non-stop on a variety of topics and it was a lot of fun to catch up face to face for a change.
One of the stories Tom told me was how he was born in Italy and spent his early years there. His family immigrated to the US when he was 7 or 8 and he did not speak a word of English. Tom had a tough time those first few years in school trying to learn the language and to make matters more complicated he is color blind. He talked about how he got in trouble a lot in school because he could not communicate that well.
Having said all that, Tom said that he still has an overwhelming feeling throughout his life that the world is a very happy place. What he discovered years later – was that when things were going wrong or if someone was angry or frustrated with him, he had an unconscious coping mechanism of simply smiling.
He started to make the correlation in his adult life that anytime he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation – he smiles. He said it is almost like a nervous twitch that he is trying to understand and take control of.
His conclusion was that because of his “twitch” he has found that people are always very kind, happy and engaging with him. He feels he has a very blessed and happy life. Our discussion revolved around the impact of
“you get what you give”
He also shared with me that his impression of me since he first met me was that I was passionate, resilient and that I was a much happier person than I should be, given the responsibility and impossible tasks I have faced in my career. I thanked him for that feedback – I am actually pretty proud of it!
As I reflected on that statement – I could think of many instances of either myself, or those around me “getting what they gave”. I shared with Tom that I too have a tendency to smile a lot and find that I get a lot of happiness in return. This comes from my childhood where my Dad often looked angry or frustrated when in fact he wasn’t. If you caught him looking angry (in a non-angry moment) and asked him about it he would deny the look on his face. I have spent my whole life working against my genes to ensure I do not emulate that body language.
My conclusion is that as leaders we have to be very, very aware of what we give because it affects not only us but those around us in a much more profound way than it did when we were early in our career. Our actions, emotions and approach are much more on display and have far reaching impacts to a broader audience than we appreciate.
Leadership questions of the week for YOU:
- Can you think of an instance recently when your behavior (a smile or a frown) had a farther reaching impact on others than you intended?
- Given that we are human beings just getting through the day like everyone else, how can we be more intentional in our behavior and either gain control or purposely pick our moments?
- Do you believe that we get what we give or do you believe that we just have to react as things come up?
Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!
Please continue the conversation by liking…commenting or sharing this article. You can also follow me on twitter @marciedwhite