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How well do you remember to treat your team members like the individuals they are?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How well do you remember to treat your team members like the individuals they are?

  • Very – I treat everyone like an individual.: 70.1%
  • Mostly – sometimes I forget to treat them as individuals.: 27.9%
  • Not very – I often treat them like cogs in a machine.: 0.8%%
  • Not at all – I tend to treat them all the same.: 1.1%

No one wants to be a cog. The more you treat people like individuals, the more likely they are to commit to your leadership. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is failing to understand this principle. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel like a cog in the machine. Common mistakes like referring to people by title or role rather than name can signal that you don’t see them as an individual. It’s these small daily behaviors that set the tone for how your people feel. Be aware of these habits and fix them if you find yourself making those mistakes. Diane, Kendall, Buddy, Elroy, and the rest of your team members will appreciate you knowing who they are as individuals.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”