Wordless Leadership

When Tom, the president of a small bank discovered that his work style is strongly analytical (and not outwardly concerned with “people” issues, he became concerned that he wasn’t doing enough to relate to the employees of his bank.

“I started as a teller. I was good with numbers, so I was promoted to customer service. I was good with numbers, so I was promoted to loan officer.

“I became so good with numbers that I could spend 10 minutes looking at a loan applicant’s tax returns and accurately determine the amount of a mortgage he or she would qualify for. Naturally, this meant that I could process a large number of mortgages quickly. Because I was good with numbers, I was promoted to vice president. Then, again, because I was good with numbers, I was promoted to president.

“I’m not that great with people skills, and I know it. But to be successful in this job as a leader, I think I need more people skills. So I make sure I do one small thing every time I walk through the lobby: even though I have a head full of numbers, I make eye contact with and smile at every teller, employee and customer I can see. I just wonder if it’s enough.”

He said this in a class which included his managers and employees of all levels. After a moment, a teller spoke up and said, “We know you, Tom. Yes, it’s enough. It’s perfect.”

Leaders, like everyone else, have different communication styles. And Tom’s co-workers knew he was a numbers guy. But they recognized that he was making an effort to flex his style
to their needs – that he made a effort for them, and they appreciated it. It only takes small, subtle behaviors. And sometimes not even words.

Question: What are you communicating to your team by your actions? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

This is a guest post by Janis Allen. In 1990, Janis Allen established Performance Leadership Consulting to help organizations

of all sizes improve performance and develop people. Janis has held the positions of:

Vice President and Performance Consultant for Aubrey Daniels International

Corporate Management Trainer and Performance Consultant for Milliken & Company

She was keynote speaker at the National Conference of the Association for Employee Recognition.

Janis helps organizations:

Develop newly promoted supervisors and team leaders

Define authority and responsibility

Set goals, develop plans for productive behaviors, and give feedback and coaching

Create a positive recognition system to motivate teams and individuals


You Made My Day: Creating Co-worker Recognition & Relationships

Performance Teams: Completing the Feedback Loop

I Saw What You Did & I Know Who You Are: Bloopers & Blunders in Giving and Receiving Positive Recognition

I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

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