Ivy leaguers, doctors, PhDs and MBAs – I’ve had the honour of coaching some really smart people.
They have incredible skills, and in-demand talent, but what happens when these same individuals need to do something they were never trained to do…sell?
As Daniel Pink says, in today’s world we are all salespeople. We need to be able to sell our ideas to our colleagues, to our allies, to investors and our customers.
For those of us who have to be laser focused on other skills…say, developing a new medical treatment or solving climate change, often our innate sales skills that we possess need some dusting off, a little bit of exercising and a touch of coaching.
Whether you’re building a team of incredibly talented introverts or stretching your team to build their own professional network, the first thing you need to think about is how to build rapport.
Rapport is based on mutual respect and understanding – essential ingredients in any relationship, professional or otherwise. It is also the first step in developing a solid leadership style with your team based on trust, advocacy, and mutual support.
You might be asking yourself:
- How can I develop rapport quickly?
- How does rapport help me to be an advocate for my team?
- How can advocacy help me (and my business) in the long-run?
Well, I’ll help answer these questions.
Become someone people want to talk to and build trust
I don’t just mean friendliness – although that is very important too. This may seem like a huge place to start, but there are actually some very simple steps you can take today to immediately become someone people enjoy talking to.
- Compliments – It might seem like common sense, but it works! People really like hearing nice things about themselves. EG: “I like the questions that you ask in team meetings!”
Want to learn more about becoming well-liked at networking events? We really like this article as a guide to self-improved communication skills.
- Advice – The purest way to compliment someone is to ask their advice on a skill or strength they have. EG: “You’re such a good public speaker! Can you lend me any tips?”
- Validate – People like to feel heard, whether they’re sharing something positive or disclosing something painful, and they don’t like to feel judged. So: acknowledge challenges they’ve shared with you by commenting on their story, not on their character. EG: “It sounds like you and your team have had a hard time problem solving around certain challenges. That must be really tough to manage.”
Notice that in the above tips we didn’t recommend jumping straight to numbers, data or into the professional side of the agenda?
Once you have an established relationship, people will share more with you. As a team leader, this means that when people share challenges with you, it’s important not only to validate their struggles, but to take things to the next step.
What is your next step?
Advocacy as a leadership style
Like rapport, advocacy creates relationships of trust, which means it’s a big deal when it comes to your role as a professional. In a team setting, advocates support one another and share ideas, encourage one another, and grow together.
Workplaces in every field are leaning into advocacy as a style of leadership (and there are some very good reasons why, which we’ll mention later on!). As the immediate supervisor of a team of employees, advocating for them will help them grow as professionals and you’ll see your work wins increase!
What are some simple ways to be an advocate for your team?
- Praise team success – Not just within your team, but to upper management. Insulated praise doesn’t feel quite as good as proud, public praise. Your team wants to know you’re proud of them.
- Be an ally – This means you need to champion your team’s needs. Support, encourage, and stand up for your team members during challenging situations. This will demonstrate that you’re not just a leader – you’re an ally as well. Being an ally means uniting with others to meet a common need, or against a common challenge.
- Share positive feedback – Whether the feedback is from you as the leader, or from upper management, or clients who complimented a particular staff or aspect of your work, share that praise with your team – they definitely want to hear it. Hearing that other people like your work is a great motivator to continue to work and grow!
- Be receptive – As a leader, you’re human too. Maybe sometimes you’ll say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you can acknowledge mistakes and be receptive to feedback from your team. This will show them that you’re not just the leader of their team – they are a part of your growth and development as well. Humility is a fantastic quality in a leader!
Why is advocacy important to team building?
Apart from simply being good practice, becoming an advocate for your team has some commercial benefits to your business as well.
- Building the strength of your team through advocacy increases employee happiness and reduces turnover rates.
- Encouragement and support from a team leader increases employee engagement with the work and with the company.
Overall, advocacy in your team improves workplace culture – which is a benefit to everyone because it means you’ll actually like working there!
Start leading with advocacy for your team today
Are you ready to learn more about building rapport and put your advocacy skills into practice for your team?
Read: 6 ways to influence people with Dr. Robert Cialdini – Read Article.
Watch: Jon Levy: What makes us influential – TED talk video.
Do: Start building rapport to build trust with your team. Once you know what they need, you can put your advocacy skills into practice!
Contact: Message me below to learn more about how I’ve used my background in improv to help uncover the best rapport building skills in highly intelligent and introverted teams.