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Getting To Your Team's Heart

5Ls Leadership Tip



Getting to your team’s heart



In our last article, we discussed the importance of using all 5Ls to be an authentic leader. Today we are going to take a deeper dive into the first "L".  More than ever, with anxiety, fear and depression being at record levels, employee engagement is no longer a nice-to-have.  It is the difference between success and failure. As leaders, we must make our teams feel valued, connected, confident and empoweredGetting to your team’s heart and knowing how to motivate them is key critical. 


Early on in my career, I made the catastrophic mistake that I thought I knew how to motivate a team.  I had just left a job that I was at for 8 plus years.  I took the leap of faith to come to a new organization as I was truly inspired by the company President during the interview process. She was one of the most dynamic leaders I had ever met and I desperately wanted to learn from her. This was a very scary jump as my first child was just born, my wife, at the time, was stay-at-home, and this job was in a totally different industry. But I bit the bullet and took the leap as the new leader of a division. The person I was replacing was loved by his team but recently promoted to a new role.  I came in thinking I knew how to manage and inspire teams as I had been so successful in my prior job. 


About 30 days after starting, the President called me into her office.  She looked at me and said, “So how is it going?”  Being the positive person I am, I responded with, “It’s going great!!!”  I then proceeded to tell her about all the new process improvements I was making and how I felt the team was in a good place. She then asked me a question I will never forget, she said, “Do you think that is your team out there?”  I responded with a big fat “YES!” and talked about all the things I was doing with them. 


She immediately proceeded to roll her chair quickly up to me, got about 2 inches from my face and stated very loudly “NO they are not, you haven’t gotten to their hearts, they won’t stand up for you and you are blowing it MANNIX! You need to find out what makes them tick, get to know them as people and then you might have a chance. Now get out of my office!”


I could feel the blood drain out of my face and I came close to throwing up in her garbage pail. I was sitting in a pool of sweat in front of the person I desperately wanted to learn from and impress and was being told, I was blowing it. What I did not know at that time was she had held private meetings with all my staff and the feedback was NOT good. So, once I could feel my legs again, I stood up with my tail tucked between my legs and I walked out the door. 


Failure was not an option. I had too much riding on this new job, so I got busy getting to know my team as individuals.  I took them out to lunch individually and took them out to dinner as a team.  I also, held one-on-one touchpoints and jumped into the day-to-day with them, never asking them to do something I would not do myself. Also, and a very important note, I brought LAUGHTER and fun (LEISURE) into the workplace.


So here is the point of this story - From the individual meetings I formed 4 very simple questions that I have now used my entire career.  I will use them during interviews and anytime new members joined my team.  It is the key to finding out what makes people tick quickly. 


These four basic questions will give you an insight that you would never get unless you ask. 

They are as follows:

  • What are you passionate about?

  • What motivates you?

  • How do you like to be communicated to?

  • How do you like to be managed?

  1.  Passion is what drives us as people. It is what we care about deep down at our core. If you know what someone is passionate about, you can connect with them on a totally different level.

  2. People are motivated by many different things- money, praise, recognition, growth and so on. Knowing this is key to managing or inspiring your team and taking their performance to the next level.

  3. Communication is KEY. Knowing what medium or how someone processes information best will yield unparalleled results.  Some people respond better to email, some a phone call or text. Some like a lot of detail, others want just the facts. Pure example, if I call my daughter on her cell she usually won’t answer. However, if I send a text, I will get an immediate response. It is just how she communicates.

  4.  Knowing what management style people respond to is one of the most important management tools.  Some people like to be micromanaged- given lots of detail and guidance, while others like to be left to their own devices with little supervision. Others like a little of both. If you use the wrong style on someone you will demotivate them and lose them quickly.


Ok, back to my story, after doing all this and now armed with the information from my team collected from the questions above, I got to work. 


30 days later the President called me back into her office. My heart was racing. She looked me in the eyes and asked again, “So how’s it going, do you think that’s your team out there?” I sat up erect in my chair and responded with a confident “YES!”. I then told her about the 4 questions I created and everything I did to get to their hearts, to motivate them and was not sure what else I could do better. Once again, she rolled her chair up to me.  I could feel my lunch coming up. She got right up to my face once again and stated, “You’re right!!!! That is your team out there, good job Mannix, nicely done, keep up the good work!” 

This was one of the biggest learning lessons of my career. To be a truly effective and inspiring leader you need to get to your team’s hearts. Find out what they LOVE, what motivates them, how they like to communicate and be managed, but most of all, show that you care about them.

This team went on to win multiple awards and quickly became the highest producers of the company generating the best margins of any division. I have continued to use this technique to this day and consistently reap similar results. 


 - Thank you for the tough love Kate.



If you want to learn more on how the 5Ls can make a difference for you and your team, contact us at or visit our website:

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