A colleague whose country of origin wasn’t the UK arrived to work at an organisation. Within a few weeks he was being perceived as challenging and causing difficulties for the IT department. He held a fairly senior position, and all attempts to rein him in to tow the party line even occasionally were failing.
That is, until a very smart colleague from IT was despatched to try to resolve the situation once and for all.
And this colleague, was, indeed (still is) very smart. Having lived abroad for much of his life, he sensed straight away that this new leader was a little out of sorts because of the newness and unfamiliarity of his surroundings and the culture he’d been immersed into.
So our IT man didn’t go in and talk about computers. He talked about food. He showed empathy with his new colleague’s complaints about not being able to find the sort of food here that he was used to … the “authentic” supermarkets weren’t authentic, the food was tasteless, finding a good meal seemed impossible (his opinion, of course, not mine). Mr IT listened, and shared his own experience of living abroad through personal storytelling. Computers and IT-related business didn’t even make it onto the table for a good half hour.
And in doing this, it opened the door for my IT colleague to make a connection with this stranger. Call it networking, communicating, listening, sharing, storytelling … whatever you will.
I call it leadership.
I was especially proud to know him and to hear this story.
Little things count. The personal touch matters. People are important.
A mantra, surely, to remember at work?