How many of us know our people? I mean, really know them? Their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions, their desires? Do we know when they are having an off day, or when they are really in the zone?

For many leaders, these are some hard questions to answer because we simply do not have the time, or make the time, to get to know our people, but as a leader, this is so important.

Think about your role as a leader. It is your responsibility to get the best out of the members of your team by assigning them tasks and responsibilities that will help them achieve their goals and objectives. In order to do this, you should be giving tasks to the members of your team that compliments their particular strengths, but if you don’t know what those strengths are you will find this task extremely difficult or ineffective. Observation is key in getting to know your people. Just take time to look at how they act in the work environment, notice their body language, are they happy? Do they seem concerned? Being able to gather this information and use it correctly as you consider who to assign to specific tasks on daily, weekly, monthly basis, can greatly increase your effectiveness and influence as a leader.

Let me give you an example. Gary Bailey, a former Manchester United and Engl and goalkeeper, now an author, professional speaker and entrepreneur, in his book, “Succeed Under Pressure,” shared the following story about Sir Alex Ferguson, possibly one of the greatest footballing managers the world has ever seen. When Gary was well into his retirement, he told of a time he was invited by Sir Alex to watch one of the team’s training sessions. As he was watching these amazing athletes being put through their paces, he found it interesting that Sir Alex just stood on the side-lines watching. Not one comm and or directive to any of the players. After 10 minutes Gary asked Sir Alex why he wasn’t getting involved. His answer was simple, “I’m observing the players Gary,” he explained. “I’ve got 24 players out there, all great footballers. I need to watch their body language, see who’s looking strong and positive and who isn’t – and why. That will ensure I can select the best possible team.” Gary goes on to say, “If anything sums up the importance of emotional intelligence, that is it – observation.”

The same goes for the workplace, if you want to create the best possible team for you, your organisation and your team members, observation is key.

Your friend,