I See You


Connectivity between human beings is the beginning of synergy.  It is written in our genetic code and expresses itself in our drive to join with others and be part of a group.  This is how we are wired.  It makes sense that the most effective management styles leverage this aspect of our species’ psyche.

I call this “I see you” management.  I did not coin this phrase, but since I cannot remember who did, I will use it for this post.  “I see you” management has three levels of recognition.

Level 1: I see you

You are here and I acknowledge your presence.

This is important to the individual because we all want to be a part of the group or team.  Recognition is a powerful agent when applied to our personal emotional bank account.  This is consistent with Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne Works experiments from the 1920’s.

Level 2: I see you as a person

A complete person fills my vision, with hopes, dreams, joys and fears.  You cannot manage a person if you just see them as an available asset and not as a human.  The ability to motivate someone comes from knowing them personally.

Lou Holtz, the football coach, understood this.  He asked his players to know their teammates full names, the names of their immediate family members and something about them.  Coach Holtz knew that a player would block more effectively for the “Bobby” they knew than they ever would for the “running back”.  Even though they were the same person.

Level 3: I value you for who you are

Not at the level of your title or your possessions, but instead, at the level of your commitment and effort.

This is tricky ground because I am not speaking just about commitment and effort at work.  I also value you for your commitment and efforts outside of work.  You can learn a lot about someone by how they treat others

I was at a restaurant recently with a business acquaintance who wanted to join my team.  He was disrespectful to our waitress and others he met while there.  Even though he was polite to me, I could see that he only valued people for what they could give him.  This attitude did not fit our culture and I didn’t hire him.

In another instance, one of my employees had a habit of badmouthing and undermining others.  He only valued others as stepping-stones for his personal career development.


The result of “I see you” management is trust.  Trust is the lubrication that allows organisations to tackle tough problems.  It helps them weather the storms of uncertainty.  It is also the glue that keeps a team from despair and fragmentation.  It keeps an organisation aligned when other forces are trying to pull it apart.

In my daily walk through my business, I try to touch every employee with a message about their value to me and our business journey together.  I expect them to do the same.  It keeps us sane, focused and successful.

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Image by Gareth


  1. Makes me think of Robert A. Heinlein and Stranger in a Strange Land:

    Level 4: I grok you: understand intuitively and completely

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