This Article is About
leadership skills
new graduate
cliche
attitude
challenges
fear
Leadership: Guiding The Head, Heart, And Hands Of Employees
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"Are you asking me how I intend to lead?" I asked. I tried to hide any sign of incredulousness at even being asked. I have been a manager and now senior leader for over 20 years. I came into the working world when most new employees just seemed happy to have a job. I don't remember asking my manager many questions. I always had a sense of deference and maybe even a little fear of my superiors. Not so with the new employees of today, and this was especially true of Hope.

I knew I could not just stand and stare blankly for too long, or Hope would just walk away. "Well,” I said, "I know this sounds cliche, but it depends on the employee." I saw this as an opportunity to describe my leadership technique for guiding individual employees by finding their essense.

She did not respond, but "it figures" was written all over her face.

I continued, "It is all about engaging your head, heart, and hands." Hope's eyebrows pulled together. "Depending on the employee, I will need to know what area needs the most attention."

Her eyebrows relaxed and her head seemed to be balanced on a point.

"You, for example,” I said standing a bit taller. "You are a new graduate with lots more education coming out of school than I had. If I am going to reach you and keep you engaged, I am going to have to convince you that what we are doing here is the right thing. I need to develop my leadership skills and style to address your head. Part of that will be to ensure that I offer up enough challenges so that you don't get bored. In addition, I am likely to give you room to develop. You aren't going to need me for much once you get rolling, and that's fine. I have a sense that if I gave you too much direction," I had her attention now. "You would simply leave and get another job."

Her head began to sway into a nod, but attitude still simmered beneath the surface.

"You are smart, talented, and you know that you could have another job in a minute."

Hope smiled broadly. These generation y-ers, or millennials, or whatever they're called love to be needed and totally gratified at every moment.

"Even though my focus for leading you will be your head," I continued. "I cannot forget about your heart and hands." I raised my eyebrows and leaned my head toward her in an attempt to elicite a response. She puckered her lips and nodded a bit more aggressively.

"Your heart is the easy part. It is with most health care workers, because the work is rewarding for those that provide care."

"You already have my heart," she spat. "Because we all get into this sort of work because we want to care for people." She made air-quotation marks before and after "care for people."

"Exactly," I said a bit louder than I expected.

She took my energy, "And my hands, why that is really already taken care of too, because I work my hands." She smiled naturally and was now rapidly nodding her head through a small range.

"Exactly," I said again with a little wave of my index finger.

"Well," Hope continued, "that's pretty easy. You just focus on all our heads, because the heart and hands is already taken care of. That doesn't take rocket science." Her youth had returned in full bravado.

"No, no it doesn't, but you didn't ask me that. You asked me how I intended to lead. When I can, I like to keep my leadership style simple. I focus on an employee's head, heart, and hands. Sometimes it is not so easy. Like, for example, with office employees, kitchen staff, and housekeeping. Our employees that work in those areas may not directly feel their impact on the patients. Their jobs are not changing with every day or interaction. Keeping their heads and hearts engaged takes a little more, “I paused as I searched for the right word.

"Talent," Hope interjected.

"Exactly," I said making a period sign with my index finger.

Hope was moving past me now. "You know, maybe it does take a rocket scientist to lead and engage people."

"No,” I said with a Cheshire grin on my face. "Not most people, just you."

"Hah." My attempt at wit was not lost. "Thanks for answering Mr. Pullman. Have a nice day," and she turned and accelerated away.

Hmm. Mr. Pullman. Perhaps these new employees weren't all that bad.

"You have a good day, too," I called after. "If you need any help, you know how to find me."

Hope waved over her shoulder without looking and rounded a corner out of sight.


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