Dr. Veronica Guinn, an assistant professor at Arkansas State University, teaches courses focusing on leadership development and critical thinking in the professional setting. At the 2022 Arkansas Business Women’s Leadership Summit in Jonesboro, she shared some of her favorite daily practices for leaders to adopt in the workplace.
1. First on her list is the power of saying “good morning.”
“We’re setting the foundation,” she says. “We’re walking through the office, through the plant floor, and saying ‘good morning.’ It sets the tone and allows you to connect with people.”
She acknowledges it’s tempting to start the day by making demands or delegating tasks, but encourages leaders to slow down and show genuine interest in the lives of the people working alongside them.
2. Guinn says abandoning slang terms and being an articulate communicator is vital in obtaining a good first impression. An easy way to remember this, she says, is by “using the words of a child.” Clear words and phrases like, “yes,” “no,” “please,” “thank you” and “would you help me?” are concise and easily understood.
3. While it’s becoming a lost art, Guinn urges the audience to learn the art of talking on the phone.
“A mentor told me if you’re emailing over a paragraph or more, you need to pick up the phone and call that person or go into their office.”
In fact, one of the best things supervisors can do is go to an employee’s office to have a conversation with them. Entering their space, she says, takes the pressure off them and can give insight into their lives and values based on pictures they have displayed or certificates they have hanging up.
“Please don’t let this be something we have lost because of the pandemic,” she says. “Virtual and technology is nice to have, but I’m telling you, the best work of the world has really come from people making these spoken connections.”
4. Another way to form these relationships, Guinn says, is by leaving your desk for lunch and inviting others from your workplace to join you occasionally.
“These lunches are not for making decisions or doing performance evaluations,” she says. “What we’re doing is floating ideas and brainstorming with peers and mentors. It’s the best networking.”
She says if you are fearful that productivity will suffer if you leave your space, re-evaluate your metric for productivity.
“Creating connections and sharing values is so much more valuable than any of the emails you could respond to during lunch.”
5. Guinn also emphasizes the importance of being the first to face the fire and teaching others from your experiences and mistakes, as well as practicing proper drinking and tipping etiquette at business dinners, not being afraid to excuse yourself from uncomfortable conversations or situations and believes buying personalized business stationery is a must.
“The third thank you is the charm,” she says. “They are flooded with emails. Send that thank you note in your own handwriting to show that you have the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that means a lot to clients.”
For Guinn, everything boils down to meaningful connections.
“It’s about values. Trust, growth, kindness,” she says. “These types of values you learn from one another by storytelling and learning things about people. This is what will build relationships and positive cultures.”