Do the little things matter for a leader? In 1972, a speech by weather expert, Edward Lorenz, titled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings In Brazil Set Off A Tornado In Texas?” explored the concept of the Butterfly Effect. For you scientists, it is also called Chaos Theory. For human development gurus, the Butterfly Effect, is about how the smallest of change can make the greatest of impact. For leaders it is about influence.
Think about the little things of leader. Your tonality, your facial expression, your stress level, your anxiety or what you say in the Town Hall Meeting all impact your people. In our culture, we focus on things like the ‘Big Wins,’ the number of followers, the size of the deal and the number of direct reports. These are all valid measures. The little things matter too and have a great impact on our careers and the careers of our followers.
Here are what I consider the Big 3 Little Things:
1.) Support: Your team needs to know that you are supportive of their careers and success. The new team member or any team member needs consistent support. This is all about the consistency of your relationship with them. If you are inconsistent with your words and actions this can alienate your staff. Hogan Assessments characterize a bad manager as one that ‘ignores the needs of their staff or one that does not discuss the developmental needs of staff.’
What is the Butterfly Effect of you ignoring or connecting with your staff ?
2.) Training: This includes technical, business and leadership training. All of these items fit in the category of training. Training is about formal or informal education that equips individuals in their career, job function or team. Training separates the good places to work from the best places to work. It is a Big Little Thing that is often overlooked. Start with this question with your team: “What do you feel most competent in?” and “What area(s) would you like to learn more about or become more skilled in?”
What is the Butterfly Effect of you ignoring or supporting the developmental needs of your staff?
3.) Communication: This is such a Big Little Thing that we take it for granted. The greatest of communicators include their staff in decisions and help employees understand change. Keep in mind as change occurs you need to make sure you understand the change and its impact before you just forward along the email. This impacts your credibility.
What is the Butterfly Effect of your communication efforts?
Kaiser research indicates that 75% of employees consider their direct boss the most stressful part of their job. I know you don’t want this to be true of you.
What are the other Big Little Things that work for you?
For those of you who are Big Bang Theory Fans, take a look at the video that explains how the little thing can have a big impact.