I was reminded recently about an often overlooked tool that leaders can use to drive connection with people in their circle of influence. If you can connect with others, you can increase your reputation as a leader, your influence level, and your ability to fully engage teammates and peers in what you are doing.
The Picnic Table
I normally workout in the early morning hours, but due to an early appointment on this particular day, I moved my workout time to noon. At the two-mile mark in my 4-mile run through my neighborhood, I noticed a man standing at the back of his pickup truck with a perplexed look on his face. His wife was standing in the bed of the truck holding the back-end of a large picnic table & benches combo set. It was clear to me that he was trying to figure out his next steps to get this heavy piece of yard furniture from the truck to the upstairs deck in the rear of the house. They had only moved it a few feet, and there was no way he was going any further without help.
A Leader’s Ability to See
Author and speaker John Maxwell teaches that everyone in your circle of influence is asking three questions about you to determine their level of buy-in to you and what you are trying to accomplish. The three questions are: Can you help me? Do you care about me? And can I trust you? If the people you hope to influence can answer those three questions with a “yes” then you are someone they want to follow.
It’s easy as a leader to become so consumed with the business or with your own world that we fail to lift our eyes to see what’s going on with others. When you do take the intentional effort to look around, you can often find people at the point of their need. In many cases, this is where a small action by you can have a meaningful impact on someone else.
The Upper Deck
So, seeing the look on this guy’s face and his wife with her hands on her hips, I yelled across the street, asking if he needed any help. Most guys, when asked this question, answer quickly that they “got it.” Not this guy; he quickly answered and emphatic, “YES!”
Between the two of us, we were able to muscle that table and bench set to the upper deck on the back of his house. His wife was very pleased and grateful. Here’s what I was reminded of:
- When you lift your eyes and look around, you can often find ways to serve others
- Serving others often requires very little from you, but adds a lot of value to them
- Serving others often takes very little time, but makes a big difference in their life
- You often can do things for people that they could never do on their own
- When you serve others, you open the door for connection and engagement
I said my goodbyes and wished them a good day and made my way back to my exercise and my podcast. It took very little time. It was a very small effort from me that made a meaningful moment for them.
If you want to increase your connection with others at work or home, look for the challenges they face, obstacles that are in their way, or struggles they may be facing. You don’t have to be the answer to every problem they have, but I guarantee that if you look for ways to help, you will find ways to serve that will seem small to you and meaningful to them.