How good a leader are you?

Something that can give you a pretty good indication is by answering the question, "Who makes the coffee?"

One of the key roles of leadership is building excellent relationships to engage and motivate others.  And, surprisingly, who makes the coffee can have a remarkable impact on this process.

Possibly the best boss I ever worked with would always, as I entered his office, ask, "Can I pour you a coffee?"  He never got one of his secretaries to make it and bring it in on a tray, instead placing himslef in a position of service.

This ties in with ideas around Servant Leadership, or what Good To Great author Jim Collins calls Level 5 Leadership, marked out by a high degree of personal humilty.

The Power-Distance Principle

As you well know, to engage effectively you first have to be in rapport.  Otherwise you're just 'telling' and then you're into a purely transactional relationship, which always leads to lowest common denominator outcomes.

To truly appreciate the dynamics at play here, you first must understand the concept of the 'Power-Distance' principle.  

As a leader/boss you are already in a position of power, and people will also tend to see you as distant if you place yourslef above them.  To establish rapport and create engagement you therefore have to break down the barriers.

Home Field Advantage

I've written about the 'home field advantage' before, and this is something else you need to be aware of.  When people visit you in your office they are 'playing away' which makes them feel at a disadvantage.

So making your office a welcoming environment is important, and your behaviour plays a critical role in either making people feel at ease or putting them on edge.

This is where making the coffee comes in.  It gives a double benefit.

As well as putting you in a position of service, as we've mentioned, it also gets you out from behind your desk and puts you in the same space, and so creates a much more equal feel to the situation.

Once you've achieved that you can enter into an engaged dialogue where there will be a good chance you'll hear what needs to be heard, rather than what the other person thinks you want to hear.