In the world of leadership, guidance often comes from unexpected sources. For me, a pivotal piece of advice came in a twist of a quote from the movie Elf.

In the film Elf, the main character Buddy, played by Will Ferrell, admits to his boss, the department store manager where he works, that “smiling is his favorite.”  The manager then responds, "Make work your favorite."

For our leadership at Fishhook, I was told by Fishhook's founder to "make people your favorite," a phrase that has profoundly influenced my approach to leading a team.

Our founder's twist on this advice shifted the focus from tasks to people. It's a simple yet profound reminder that the heart of effective leadership lies in valuing and prioritizing the individuals who make up the team.

Making people your favorite is way beyond - in fact, it’s superior to managing tasks; it's about investing in relationships, understanding the unique strengths of each team member, and creating a culture where individuals feel valued and appreciated. This advice goes beyond the confines of traditional leadership approaches, emphasizing the human aspect of working together toward a common mission and goals to serve each other and then others as well.

When people become your favorite, you see beyond their roles and titles.

You care about them as a whole person - especially beyond the workplace. You see and know them, their family, other responsibilities, interests and cares. In the work together, you recognize the potential within each team member and empower them to contribute their best. This perspective fosters a sense of camaraderie and collaboration, where everyone feels known, heard and understood.

One key aspect of making people your favorite is actively listening.

Understanding the aspirations, concerns and ideas of your team members builds trust and strengthens the bond between leader and team. It creates a culture of open communication, where feedback is welcomed and everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts. This advice encourages leaders to celebrate the unique qualities that each team member brings to the table.

Recognizing and acknowledging individual contributions fosters a positive work environment, boosting morale and motivation.

At Fishhook, one way that we do this is through our #winning Slack channel where everyone on our team celebrates the wins and contributions of others. It transforms the workplace into a community where everyone plays a vital role in the collective success of the team.

As a leader, making people your favorite involves investing time in mentorship and professional development.

It means providing guidance, fostering growth opportunities and actively supporting each team member's journey toward success. By prioritizing the well-being and growth of your team, you create a foundation for sustained success and fulfillment.

In essence, making people your favorite is a leadership philosophy that transcends the conventional notions of authority. It's about creating a team dynamic where individuals thrive, contribute their best and collectively achieve remarkable outcomes.

In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership, this simple yet powerful advice continues to shape my journey, reminding me daily that people are the heart of our team and yours too.