It’s Tuesday again. Want to get out there with a new perspective to re-energise your relationships? Engage better with people? Look at yourself and your experience in a new way? Well, the good news is that you already know something about how to do exactly that – be a host.
We’ve all acted as hosts at some point – whether it’s inviting friends round for a meal, holding a celebration party or welcoming guests from overseas. But have you ever thought about how thinking like a host could help you at work? Here’s how:
Be on your ‘guest’ behaviour. Hosts entertain guests, so start thinking of the people you’re meeting as your guests. You’ll find yourself becoming more attentive, more interested and more open to what they are looking for and bringing to the conversation. You can do this even if they are not your guests, of course – it’s about thinking like a host. Business networking guru Dr Ivan Misner has an excellent way of doing this; when he walks into a room full of strangers, he thinks like a host and starts to meet and introduce people to each other. Of course, to do that, he has to say hello, find out about them, look for connections… All part of building great engagement.
Hosts are flexibly proactive. When you are entertaining guests, you are not centre stage all the time. You know when to step forward and take the initiative, and when to step back and allow others to build on what you’ve started. Just as it’s bad hosting to hog the limelight, it’s not good practice to be the one doing all the work – that way you get exhausted while everyone else watches from the sidelines. Make a space for others to respond, and then give them the time to do so. You get way more commitment and engagement by giving the opportunity.
Hosts reach out with invitations. In the management books this is called ‘soft power’ – the power of an outstretched hand of welcome. An invitation is always an acknowledgement for the guest – even if they don’t take it up. Make sure you let people know why you’re inviting them to something, how good it will be, and what you are hoping may emerge. Then give them a space to accept – when they do, you have a relationship, not a reluctant conscript.
Think like a host today – for a change for the better for you and your ‘guests’.
Mark McKergow is an international speaker and author on the subject of host leadership. His new book, ‘Host: Six New Roles of Engagement for Teams, Organisations, Communities and Movements’, is released on 6th October 2014.