Recently while preparing for a presentation I ran across some research that my friend Harold Ivan Smith shared with me one day at lunch. “You know Steve, many people don’t know much about being an ambassador”. He went on to share his research about the last several terms of presidents and how the U.S. Commander in Chief has an unwritten code of conduct that he swears to about managing the affairs of the country- one of them about empathy.

I got to thinking about that as I continued to prepare my speech for the group of managers I was going to be in front of in the coming week. I thought to myself, “have I been an ambassador to my groups? Have I provided empathy to the people on my teams, when it was appropriate?” I concluded these thoughts with the following 3 qualities of an ambassador that makes a winning, stand-out manager or supervisor.

  1. The character of Integrity- Nothing stinks more in a business than when there is corruption of character. It simply becomes foul. Relational investments become shallow, trust is taken back, and grace is only seriously considered instead of freely given. Truth, honesty, rightfulness, pure motives- these are the traits of integrity. Maybe your opinion of some (or most) of your own bosses have been less than integral but the bottom line is this- people need it. Look inward: do I practice truth, purity of motive, and honesty as I administer supervision and practice managerial skills? Do I have integrity?
  2. Captain-like Condolence- The President of the United States has the special assignment of offering condolence to government and military families after a tragedy. Without fail, its almost an expectation. The same is true for managers, supervisors, and CEO’s in their companies. Offering this “official I am sorry for your loss” filled with presence, heart felt touch and/or tone, as well as a genuine compassion is needed for your teams when there is suffering, crisis, or tragedy. My friend Alan says it best, “It (condolence) seems to be a lost art among many in the halls of our building but something I wish we had training in- for the benefit of our people and their families”.
  3. Constraints- knowing my boundaries. Do you work well with others? Do you respect culture? Do you know your strengths? Are you responsive rather than reactionary? How do you treat your team? These questions are a good starting point to consider whether or not you work within the constraints of your personality, job description, values/virtues. We can spot it easy in others but look inward- do you notice anything that shouldn’t be there?

Being an ambassador to your company is not just a novel idea- its a great piece of the manager position puzzle that is missing in most companies. Do you know much about being your organization’s ambassador?