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If You Don’t Care, Don’t Ask | Ed’s Story (Part 3 of 3)

Feb 21, 2024
By Tim Heist

Categories: Uncategorized

If You Don’t Care, Don’t Ask | Ed’s Story (Part 3 of 3)

Have you ever heard the saying, “Your referral is the best compliment you can give”? We’ve all relied on recommendations from friends and family when seeking out professionals like insurance brokers, real estate agents, or even carpet cleaners. But what about leadership? Have you ever wondered what your team would say about your leadership style? Would they enthusiastically recommend a friend to join the team based on your influence in their life?

In our recent podcast, Ed Ferderbar, President of Bauen Unlimited, shares his experiences from childhood to CEO. Today, Ed leads a group of 6 companies whose teams are largely recruited through internal referrals, often from friends and family. Why do people want to work for these companies? What can we learn from them and how can we apply these principles in our leadership?

Ed shared that attractive organizational cultures have leaders who prioritize knowing, caring for, respecting, and trusting their team members. They create opportunities for employees to grow and equip them with the tools necessary to succeed.

Building trust, as Ed attests, is not a quick process. Getting to know someone takes humility, authenticity, and vulnerability. Asking, “how was your weekend?” or “how are you doing?” can often feel like pointless small talk or a waste of time.  But seemingly insignificant small talk can evolve into meaningful conversation when we add intentionality and authenticity. If we are only looking to be socially polite, yes, it’s small talk. If we truly care and are genuinely interested to know more about the person and their life, it can lead us from simply knowing about a person to building trust with them.

Years ago, I was in a role that interacted with large groups of people every week. I remember walking the hallway saying “good morning” like I was running for city mayor. Every now and then I would throw in a “how are you?” Sometimes they replied with quite shockingly honest responses. Instead of simple small talk, I found myself spending time, mental energy, and listening with limited bandwidth. Admittedly, I found myself complaining. Why is everyone telling me how they are actually doing?!  A friend, willing to speak truth in my life, said, “if you don’t care how they are doing, stop asking.” What a leadership lesson…I missed it. I wasn’t seeing people for who they were and what they were experiencing in life; I was only thinking about how they wanted to spend my time. How often do we miss this same opportunity for building relationships in our workplaces?

As leaders, create an environment of authentic care and relationship. Take the time to pause and listen to the people you spend your life with day-in and day-out. Start conversations with questions like “What are you looking forward to right now?” or “What has been challenging for you lately, either at work or home?” Or to be even more bold and build trust with someone you already know, jump into questions like, “What was life like for you as a child?” or “Who has been a shaping voice in your life”?

By prioritizing authentic conversations and demonstrating genuine care, we can create workplace cultures where people know they are valued, and where they can recruit others to experience the same.

You can find Part 1 and Part 2 of Ed’s story series linked below:

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