Belonging is a basic human need, it’s necessary for safety; a unified ‘tribe’ can demonstrate strength and defend against threats better than individuals. Effective leaders understand this need and do things that make people feel included. For example, parents make sure their children feel like important members of the family and, by doing so, create a strong family unit. Spouses work together as partners to make better decisions that benefit their common goals. And good bosses let their employees know that they are valued members of the team in order to keep engagement high.
One leader who comes to mind for me is Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although he was supreme commander of the allied forces, he took time to wander among the troops. He would greet officers by name, and talk to the enlisted men; he would ask about their hometown, wife, family and interests. The attention and time he took with his people made them feel a great sense of camaraderie and belonging not to mention a devotion to him and the mission they were pursuing.
How can you provide more of a sense of belonging for your ‘tribe’? Here are some things to try:
- Set a reminder in your calendar for a time each day to walk among you team and visit with them.
- Learn about your team members: Family? Kids? Interests? Hobbies?
- Create reminders for critical things like birthdays and work anniversaries and make sure to make mention of these things personally with the team member.
- Ask team members if there is anything you can do to help them. Are there obstacles you can help remove?
- Ask team members what they think about what’s going well and what needs improvement.
If you desire to become a better leader, you must develop a service mindset, an ‘other-person’ mentality. Begin looking for ways to include others.