Considering how you come across to others and assessing the relationships you are building – whether that be in relation to senior stakeholders, clients or companies you partner with on projects or refer to/from are all very worthwhile and important considerations. In fact pivotal, particularly as you become more senior.
However, an often forgotten element to how you communicate yourself and engage with others, is thinking of those more junior than you. Not only, with regard to how you manage them and interact with them day-to-day, but also how you are role modelling to them.
Many a time when I am working with 1-2-1 clients and I ask them why they have a certain perspective on something, it is from what they have learnt from others – this may be from childhood or from friends. However, a lot of the time it is from more senior colleagues. For instance, a client just the other week was telling me it was not appropriate to offer a comment when given her pay review. I was utterly astounded, of course there is a way to comment, whether positive or negative but the idea of saying nothing was alien to me and rather schoolesque. This cultural norm had been learnt from hearing about others’ experiences and the role of more senior colleagues (we did look at how she might start to change this, as a fairly senior person in the organisation!). Therefore, the impact you have on those below you is not to be underestimated, care is needed as your behaviour not only affects what happens today, but can affect what happens years down the line.
Another point worth considering is remote working. Whilst flexibility in how we work is necessary and welcome, it is essential to consider the impact on more junior team members. It is very hard for them to learn from more senior colleagues if they themselves are at home all the time or sat in an empty office, so if this is the working model of your organisation, a plan is needed about how to develop your teams to make the best of the individuals in them. When I have worked with more junior teams, I have heard many a time the gripe that they see very little of their line manager, feedback is hard to obtain and fundamentally there are no great role models. They are not going to develop to their full potential, with these challenges.
So, if you are a team leader, my message today is to think about what people are experiencing of you as a leader and a more senior colleague, as well as how they are experiencing you. They could be replicating your behaviours for years to come!

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