How Well Do You Really "Know" Each Of Your Team Members?

As people we want to be known for who we really are. We want the discovery to be so real that they see us naked and don't turn away.

Well-known people tire of the same conversations about the most knowable things on the surface. The admirers miss the clues that no further adulation is necessary; looking under the surface is the desperate ask, all in the interest of reducing the distance that notoriety creates.

Lesser-known people tire of not being noticed. Of walking across the sand without leaving footprints. Of courageously speaking up in a group, to the surprise and lifted eyebrows of those who are used to the attention, followed by paternalistic laughter or feigned interest. The temporary spotlight moves off that person, gratefully, and their fears are reinforced. It will be an even longer gap before the next insertion attempt.

You can't really "know" people in a crowd, and that's why—to the climber, at least—knowing them is inefficient and plodding. The ROI just isn't there.

If you want someone to never forget you, notice them. Speak to them. Learn of their hopes and fears. Treat their mind as a fascinating experiment with possible discoveries under every rock.

Learn the breadcrumb trail that led to a certain belief. Learn how a past event shaped so much of who they are now.

Nothing hurts quite so much as the promise of interest, following by distraction. If your interest in another human isn't real, it will turn on you. Nothing is quite so exhausting as talking to someone for an hour and then realizing that the other person never really pursued you.

You can't fix everything, but you can try to understand it. The messy lives of people are a part of your firm. Each one of the marvelous contributors who make up your team is a dog's breakfast of aspirations, fears, and borrowed beliefs. Building them into a team starts by seeing how each one is different.

From there you see if there's a humility where cultural or political overlap doesn't exist. A willingness in each to teach gracefully is as important as a willingness to absorb and learn.

Running a firm is really about being a decent human. If you can get your arms around that, there will be more than enough extra stuff to sell to your clients by way of expertise and leadership.

Don't you dare further the existential pain of believing that anyone has limited impact on your team's work. What your clients are buying is what's left over after the "being human" part is covered, and if it's too hard to be human at your shop, clients are going to get the same ol' shit.

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