A common practice of Presidents of the United States is to send personal notes to people. The notes can be birthday wishes, thank you’s, condolences, or anything of a personal nature. The notes in themselves are not that important, but they do create a personal connection between the President and others. They also create loyalty and a sense of the President as a genuine person.
All leaders need to follow a similar practice. This is not a practice that you will suddenly start doing once you are in a leadership position. It’s a practice that should become who you are early in your adult life. Here are some strategies you can use to connect with others.
- Create a communications list on your phone. What you need to record is the name of the person you want to send a note to and a short reminder of the subject.
- Set aside one-half hour a day to send notes to people on your list. Everyone is busy, but we all have some time we can do this. This is a good activity to do before you go to bed because it will put you in a good frame of mind when you go to sleep.
- In most cases, use a hand written card for your communications. This adds more of a personal touch. You will be surprised by how many people will keep these hand written notes.
- As you move into leadership positions, ask your direct reports to give you a “heads – up” on situations that might warrant a personal note (e.g. death in a person’s family)
- Avoid at all costs communications templates. For example, don’t use the same message to thank a person for a well done job. These standard templates can often do more harm than good. This is a case where you want to be inefficient.
- You will want to develop a sense of what warrants a personal note. For example, do you want to send a note for every birthday or the milestone ones (e.g. 40, 50, 60)?
The strategy outlined above is simple to do but requires discipline. If you don’t have the discipline for this, you might not have the discipline you need to become a leader.