What’s in a name?

November 29, 2023

A blue "Hello, my name is" sticker

The term “leadership” is tossed around incessantly in discussions about the qualities people desire (or lack) in a workplace or in life. Numerous articles and blog posts, including this one, highlight how poor leadership stands as the primary demotivating factor in the workspace, all while extolling abstract theories of what constitutes a good leader.

I understand it. I’ve experienced working for both good and bad leaders. Interestingly, as I reflect on how I frame things, I see myself as having worked “with” good leaders and “for” poor leaders.

So, how do we discern between the good and the bad? What are the defining characteristics of each? It’s easy to list the behaviors of a poor leader, but it becomes more challenging to pinpoint the specific qualities that exemplify a good leader.

For those seeking to enhance their leadership skills or improve how they’re perceived by those they work with, here’s a straightforward suggestion: get their names right. Spell them correctly and pronounce them accurately. It’s literally the very least you can do to acknowledge the people without whose work and effort your company or position would lack meaning.

When you send them an email, spell their name correctly. In conversation, pronounce it accurately. And if you’re unsure about how to say someone’s name, reflect on your time management and consider why you haven’t had the opportunity to ask them directly.

A person’s name is more than a label or a title; it has helped shape who they are throughout their life. It may be a family name or maybe something unique, but behind every name is a story.

Get to know your people and their stories so you can better understand the needs and desires of those who serve under you in whatever capacity it may be.

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