About eight years ago, my son, Jared was working in sales for Monumental Sports & Entertainment in Washington, DC, striving to keep current season ticket holders for the Washington Wizards, happy and to attract new season ticket holders.

One day we had a conversation about how he was trying to keep his customers in a good mood, regardless of the team’s won-loss record. After reminding me that sports is a great escape from the stresses of daily work life and has the capacity to really entertain people, Jared said:

“Dad, I read that when you smile at other people, they have a tendency to smile back at you, because smiling becomes contagious. “

I was reminded of that long-ago, conversation this week because Monday night at a synagogue board meeting I attended, I ended up having a conversation with a fellow board member about the value of smiling. This person, like me, has spent many years in leadership positions. We agreed, that when you are involved in an in-person conversation, at a team meeting, or on a Zoom meeting , it is important to smile.

Why? People notice. When colleagues or teammates are sitting around the table with you or join you on the on the computer screen for a Zoom meeting, they observe how you and other people are showing up. They notice four things:

-body language
-facial expressions
-tone of voice
-volume of voice

That’s why it is so important to be self-aware at every moment during our interactions with other people.

-How are we showing up?

-What message are people receiving when they look at us?

-How do people perceive our investment in this particular meeting or conversation?

I was reminded of this important point once again Tuesday morning when I read Dan Rockwell‘s daily “Leadership, Freak” blog post. The title of this particular blog post was “Three Ways to Become a Leader People Love to Follow.”

Dan’s third of three suggestions addressed self-awareness, a mandatory characteristic for all good leaders. Dan asked four questions:

1. Are people glad to see you?

2. Is there any laughter in your conversations?

3. When you look across the table, is anyone smiling back at you?

4. What’s the energy level of people after spending time with you?

On most teams, people look for reasons to follow their leaders.
Make it easier for them.
Help them see the humor in different situations.
Encourage them to smile, just as you do.

Teach them to find joy in every-day situations.

Most of all, keep smiling. People will smile back at you!

If you believe this content would resonate with a friend or colleague, please feel free to forward it along!