In all my years of being either an employee, leader or consultant, the one thing I believed to be consistent was that eventually I’d be able to work with almost anyone. No one gets there 100% of the time unless they’re the ultimate leader; even then they might get lip service and be ignored once the person leaves.

30-year friends!

In the early years I didn’t think it took all that much skill, but over time I realized the way I worked was more of an anomaly than I’d ever dreamed of. I think it all comes down to 3 relatively easy steps; at least they’re easy for me.

To say I can break my tactics into 3 easy steps isn’t totally accurate. The three leadership tips I’m giving seems like common sense, but maybe there’s no real concept that’s common anymore. Still, I have hope that there are realities that apply to the job that gives common sense approaches a chance to succeed. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist and I’m way off base, but I’m giving these 3 tips with the hope that they might work for you.

1. Concentrate only on the job

No matter what job I was working at, no matter the responsibility, I always went to work with my mind on one thing; doing the job I was hired to do.

Most of the time that was pretty easy to do. I wasn’t one who liked getting into gossip or spending a lot of time talking about things unrelated to the job at hand. I was friendly with everyone and could talk to anyone, but my goal was always in the front of my mind.

I did the same in leadership positions. If you’re going to be a good leader, you can’t walk around being aloof because you never know who might come to your rescue when you need them… no matter what it is they do. Many leaders get into the position and forget that at one point they were workers; many of those workers want to do the best job they can without a lot of hassle or attitude.

The only people I’ve ever had problems with were people who were more interested in themselves, being sneaky or trying to find ways not to work. I didn’t have much use for people whose only goal was to try to look good instead of producing good results. I’ve worked with a number of consultants over the last 18 years who are like this, caring more about increasing the time they stay on a project than actually solving any problems. I’ve never liked working with people I couldn’t trust or believe, or those I knew weren’t actually interested in helping. I never wanted to work with anyone whose ethics were in question.

Sometimes I had to try… at least once. Sometimes you’re stuck with them and have to figure out a way to get things accomplished in spite of them. Most of the time I work around and without those people. The only time I had problems was when it involved someone in a higher position of authority than I had.

In those cases I minimized the time I’d be around them and continued doing the job I had to do. When all else fails, I remember it’s all about the job and doing the best I can; it helps people no matter what level they’re at.

2. Treat everyone fairly

For most of my career I’ve mainly worked with women. There’s a truth that there are differences in working with women than with men. There’s also a bit of untruth in how different those relationships are… just as there are many untruths in how it is working with minorities… or in my case those in the majority.

I’ve found that all most people want it to be treated fairly and equally. If you hire the right people and train them properly, you’ll find that most people want to show you how well they can do their job. All they want is for someone to notice them, give them a chance to give an opinion or offer a way to improve things (even if they don’t take advantage of it), give them the tools and training they need to do the job to the best of their ability and treat them with respect.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with men or women. It doesn’t matter what anyone ethnic background or sexual preference is. It doesn’t matter if someone has a disability. It doesn’t matter what age someone is. Being qualified to do the job and given the chance to prove themselves is all that matters; who doesn’t want that from someone they’re working with? Leaders need to be cognizant of this.

3. Don’t do or say stupid stuff

You’d think this would be something everyone already knows, but obviously it needs a bit of reinforcing based on what we hear in the news and workplace on a daily basis.

If you’re in a position of leadership don’t talk about sex; don’t talk about politics; don’t talk about religion; don’t get into gossip. Don’t be sexist; don’t be racist; don’t be bigoted. Don’t fall into a trap where you start feeling so comfortable around people that you say something untoward or off the cuff that can (and will) be taken the wrong way.

Don’t hug people unless they need it in a period of grief. Don’t ask people for massages. Don’t touch people you don’t know intimately well as opposed to any other kind of “well”, and definitely don’t ask them to touch you! Don’t stare at members of the opposite sex in an inappropriate way; they always know if you do.

Greet everyone, get to know them, learn how to evaluate their work, their personalities and how to keep them motivated. Be a real and balanced person to everyone possible, no matter what they do or what they can do for you; be human! Is that really too hard to remember?

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