I was reading a Harvard Business Review article the other day, and as you know, I refer to them off and on in these episodes. I love HBR because it helps me see different perspectives and look at concepts I hadn’t considered before. The other day I read an article by Philip White about why your memory matters in leadership.
I enjoy reading articles on memory. You see, when I was in school, I could listen to a teacher read off test questions and then a week later recall all of the multiple-choice options as well as the correct answer, simply by listening to her share those details verbally. I can recall most song lyrics (I love music). And, when I was younger and didn’t have my attention pulled in a thousand directions, I could have a conversation with someone and have total recall of the discussion, what each person said verbatim, etc.
When I was in pharmacy school, I would make study notes on one piece of paper. When I would get into the exam, I could picture the piece of paper in my mind and remember the information based on seeing the “picture in my mind.” (Fun facts about Katrina 🤣)
So naturally, his article caught my attention.
He talked about the fact that we rely on our phones for almost everything, even using the map to take us to our favorite restaurant. We have probably driven that route hundreds of times but we still rely on our phone app to get us there.
We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore. Our phones do that for us too. I have made my children memorize my cell phone number. They don’t have cell phones and therefore need to know how to reach me in an emergency. But most other people don’t memorize phone numbers anymore.
If we drove somewhere and something happened to our phones, most people would panic. “How will I call someone? How will I know how to get back home?” It should be logical to get back from where we came and let’s face it, 20 years ago we could drive down the road without a map and without needing the ability to call someone every second. We would survive should something happen to our phone, just like we served without them then.
In the article, Philip said that we are so reliant upon our phones, that we use the mental habits of “not needing to remember most things” in leadership situations too. Instead of remembering birthdays, names, important facts about someone’s hobbies or family, we simply don’t make the effort. As you know, this erodes the trust your team has in you.
Instead of treating the story of their most recent vacation like you read a Facebook post, you have to engage. You can’t simply listen to the details but not “like it” or acknowledge it. We have to recognize important events and situations for our team members. We have to show them that they are valued, that what matters to them matters to us. We cannot allow anything to degrade the trust our team has in us.
Can you see how relying on technology and saying to yourself, “I’m going to let my phone handle that while I focus my brain on more important things” can bleed over into allowing your phone to remember the important aspects of your relationships with your team? Put yourself in their shoes and decide how that would make you feel.
Your challenge today is to think about how you interact with your team. How do you ask about their weekends, their time off, their families, and pets? How do you make an effort to remember what matters to your team? Be intentional. Your memory matters!