One of the most rewarding parts of my internship thus far is that I actually feel like a regular member of the teams I am on – well most of the time. As I write this latest post, I am sitting at the reception desk to work the dreaded four-hour-Friday shift, watching all of my co-workers trickle out of the office to enjoy our Summer Friday hours and into the sweltering heat wave hitting New York City. But anyways, back to leadership theories.
Throughout the past six weeks it has been incredibly evident that the Leadership Member Exchange theory plays a huge role in maintaining the overall operation and effectiveness of the healthcare department at Zeno. LMX theory states that the strongest leaders are the ones able to create and foster strong, yet natural relationships with their followers. By maintaining these relationships and connections, the leader is then able to inspire his/her followers and ultimately lead them more effectively.
The thing that made this theory stand out more quickly and obviously than the others was the initial interest all of my co-workers took in my interests and passions outside of the industry. They asked about my personal life, my hobbies, and the experiences that had led me to the “unique” field of healthcare communications. More notably, these were the topics of conversation that I had with the Global Managing Director of Health within the first two days working at Zeno. However, it was really obvious that these were not just polite, “nice-to-meet-you” instances of small talk I was having with my superiors as I found them continuing over the span of the last 6 weeks. Small details I had mentioned quickly or in passing were being remembered and asked about, showing me that I, even as a temporary, low-level employee, was important to everyone with whom I worked under.
Because of these relationships that are being cultivated, I have found that I feel much more confident in my day to day routine here in the office and all feelings of apprehension or nervousness when asking for clarification or attempting something new have completely dissolved. Because I think of my coworkers as peers, and individuals I look up to, I want to complete work that will impress them and make them proud of the insights and knowledge they are passing down to me. To me, this is definitive evidence of the theory’s effectiveness in the organization as it motivates me to always want to hand in the best work possible. Furthermore, I have witnessed my co-workers across all levels foster real relationships with our clients. Almost every call begins or ends with questions about things like upcoming plans or families. To me, it was really interesting to see how important these relationships with clients are for a public relations group as it makes the clients feel like we are working with their personal best interests in mind – and not just in it for financial gain.
However, I have seen the traits of this theory become less visible across department lines. While each of the other interns have established relationships with their teams within their respective departments, those individuals are almost like strangers to me. Yes, I realize that it isn’t exactly necessary for me to have relationships with absolutely everyone in the office throughout my internship, I do think that some of the higher-ups in the office could strengthen our company if they were able to create relationships across departments.