Good Leaders Remember Names

Two leaders are presenting at the meeting. Both wander around the meeting before hand making small talk. Both address the group and take questions. One responds to each person calling them by name. The other doesn’t.

Two fitness instructors present the identical class, although one takes the time to learn any new names at the beginning of the class, and uses the names throughout. The other does not.

“And when someone else speaks your name you feel pleased. You feel wanted. You feel there. Alive. Even if they’re saying your name with dislike, at least you know you’re you, that you exist.”

One principal takes time to learn the names of each student as well as the parents who go with them. The other does not.

All recent real-life scenarios from my world this month. Which scenarios feel best to you?

And yet. I can’t tell you how many leaders I have heard laugh and say, “I’m just not good at remembering names,” as if this is as a permanent genetic condition.

Using a person’s name…

  • demonstrates that you care
  • reinforces that they matter as an individual
  • shows you are paying attention
  • makes them feel valued
  • enhances your credibility
  • ???

If you wrestle with remembering names, why not have this be the year you improve that aspect of your leadership?

Tips for Remembering People’s Names

In his book Remember Every Name Every Time, Benjamin Levy shares a simple FACE model to make things easier.
Face: Notice and study the person’s face

Ask: Ask what version they prefer Ben or Benjamin?

Comment and Cross Reference: Make a linkage to an image you can remember

Employ: Use the name in the course of the conversation
If you want more ideas, there are some good ones in this blog post. How to Remember a Person’s Name, 11 Steps with Pictures.

I have also had luck with making an organizational “year book” which we shared throughout our remote organization. We don’t get together that often so it can serve as a useful refresher.