We all know that to lead well you have to know your people. Do you? Really?
Most leaders think that means to know names of family members, birthdays, what work they like, what they're good at, what rewards and motivators they respond to. Those are good things, but they don't get at who people really are.
Here's what you need to know: What they value, where their passion is, what really trips their trigger. And, as every good detective knows, you can find out what people really care about by looking at what they spend their money and time on.
You can't ask them about money, but you can ask about time. "Got big plans for your weekend?" "What did you do over the holidays?" Mostly they'll give you generalities, but once in a while they'll mention something - a nonprofit, a cause, a hobby - that hints at their passion. Take note, and ask questions. Be genuinely interested.
When you talk about what they really want to talk about, you make a connection. You show interest in him not for what he can do for you, but for who he is outside of work. By being interested, you communicate that he's an interesting person. That's a huge deposit in the relational bank account.