Dare To Care — Powerful Caring Leadership Strategies
Maybe you are the leader of your company which means your team looks up to you. You are the one guiding them — not just being the boss and telling them what to do. And a good leader is the one that shows their employees that he or she cares about their performance, their achievements, and their problems. Today I’m going to show how to dare to care about your people, by using powerful caring leadership strategies learned along my own leadership experience.
Leadership is all about people, and quite naturally, you want to develop some feelings towards your team to the point where the team is considered family.
Showing that you care about your employees both as a team and as individuals can improve their confidence and motivate them to be more productive. It can also help leaders better connect with their employees which can lead to more cooperation and efficiency. In other words, showing you care is not a weakness — it’s a way to improve your team in so many different ways.
By the way, in the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s easy to forget the importance of taking care of ourselves, as well as the people around us.
In today’s world our interactions have become more and more need based and impersonal. Time is something everyone is running short of and when you combine it with countless distractions you have, it is no wonder you have to run just to stay where you are.
Conversely, caring leaders who believe in nurturing relationships and helping people grow in organizations, do things very differently from conventional leaders.
Many studies confirm what common sense tells us: people who are feel cared for at work are more engaged and effective. They’re happier, more positive and productive, and less likely to leave. Caring for the people who report to you doesn’t just make you a better boss — it has a positive effect on your entire organization, including the bottom line.
This means that you need to care…really care.
So how do you show you care, you really care, and do it in the business context? Here are 7 ways to show your team love today, tomorrow, and every day, based on powerful strategies caring leaders leverage day in day out. By applying these strategies, you’ll create trust and loyalty by consistently showing your employees that you care about them and the work they do.
Strategy #1: Be Personal
When you set out to become a more mindful leader who shows that they value their team, the first thing you need to do is get to a personal level. This doesn’t mean that you need to discuss the private lives of your employees with them (or your own, for that matter), but it does mean you need to stop being professional at every single interaction you have.
Your team, especially your millennial members, want a real, authentic connection with people they work with.
They want to know you care and that they matter. And to know employees, you must build quality relationships with them. Take time to learn about their families and lives outside of work. For real. Not as a tactic, but authentically care about them. Then, they will care about you and what you want from them.
Caring about people means knowing them personally.
Inspiring leaders know that remembering the birthday and the names of employees’ children shows them that they, their families and their important events are also important for you and the company. This is a simple but very effective way to express recognition and show real value. This level of personalization should become part of the corporate culture so that your employees feel their importance constantly.
Gone are the days when people expect leaders to sit behind a closed office door and dictate from on high.
In modern business, the best leaders and entrepreneurs get to know their employees on a personal level as well as professionally. Ask employees about members of their family, what they enjoy doing outside the office and the parts of their role that they like or dislike the most. Demonstrating an interest in your employees as people, rather than as cogs in a machine, will ensure that they feel valued.
Creating a contact channel for employees to air out their feelings and concerns will foster a sense of care and relief.
While it may not be practical for a leader to check in on an employee’s personal life every day, embracing a culture where “the boss” cares about what’s going on outside the office walls will have a tremendous effect on the employee. An example of this communication channel is Rhonda. Rhonda is an all-encompassing workforce management solution that has the power to gauge the weekly happiness level of each individual employee. Rhonda allows employers to triage low scorers and boost workplace culture.
In a socially connected world, it can be tempting to underappreciate the role of relationships, but building quality, authentic relationships is critical to taking care of your employees.
Everyone has a need to be seen, heard and accepted, and that intrinsic need doesn’t evaporate in the workplace. To truly care for your team, you must know the team members. You should know what motivates them, what disappoints them and what they need to be successful. Grab your coffee and spend a few minutes in their office or cube asking about their evening. Take a walk around the block for your next 1:1 — you’ll be surprised what you learn about your team member.
Strategy #2: Promote Feedback
It is important to understand how your employees are feeling and to create a culture where honest feedback is applauded. Surveying your employees on a regular basis is a low-cost method to obtain significant information regarding the day-to-day realities of your business. Conducting exit interviews upon an employee leaving can unveil critical information that can now be improved to reduce turnover.
One of the most important traits in leadership and managing employees is the ability to listen.
Take the time to sit down with employees and listen to their thoughts, suggestions, comments and concerns. Giving members of your team a voice, individually and as a collective group, will boost morale and thus business growth. Listening is not just about receiving your employees’ ideas but also acting on them when it makes business sense. Prove that you’re willing to trust the input of your employees. It will pay dividends in the long run.
Too many bosses are marginal listeners.
They may be action oriented, impatient or rushed, but they’re more apt to cut someone off mid-sentence or finish their thought for them than to truly listen. Whatever the reason, they come off as cold and uncaring. Always take the time to listen to your people.
Conversely, an important rule of a leader who cares about his team is to always maintain kindness while giving feedback.
Feedback in itself is already a signal that you value the work, time and efforts of the person who performed a specific task. However, it is a special skill to give feedback correctly and maintain a balance between constructive criticism and personal opinion. Words, intonation and facial expressions are important. Caring leaders present feedback as an opportunity to teach an employee something new and do it in a kind, mentoring and supportive manner.
If an employee asks for feedback, be honest — don’t BS him.
That doesn’t mean you should be unkind, but shielding employees from the truth will do nothing but hurt them — and your company. Transparency is usually accompanied by a few uncomfortable conversations, but those conversations prove you care enough to deliver the hard truth, which will mean a lot to employees. As a bonus, that truthful and transparent feedback will also garner better results.
Feedback focuses on making people matter. Use kindness as a driving element of any feedback process.
When providing feedback, question what assumptions you’re bringing, so also be intentional. Intentional feedback embraces being honest about imperfections. It adjusts to what the person receiving the feedback needs. Feedback is not about asking them to fit your own definition of improvement. Feedback is about being intentional with your words in the kindest way possible to find a collaborative outcome. This says that the other person’s opinions also matter.
Strategy #3: Be Mindful
As a busy manager, it is easy to drown yourself in work and forget about your neighboring team members. Taking a few minutes out of your day to personally dedicate yourself to your people will boost their happiness and performance levels. There are numerous, effortless gestures to make them feel empowered and on your level.
Astute leaders are tuned into the people who work around them.
If an employee is having a bad day, go easy on that person. Likewise, know when individual players are feeling fired up and motivated and challenge them accordingly. Pay attention to the people around you and work with their moods to help them develop as individuals. This will in turn help the company expand, diversify and grow. It will also make for a dynamic corporate culture.
When you are kind, your people don’t feel that you’re a cold robot — simply barking orders and demanding obedience.
Purpose-driven and caring leaders put themselves in the shoes of their employees and try to feel what they feel, this is what empathy is all about. Sympathy on the other hand is simply the act of telling other people “I’m sorry.” They are always aware of the impact that they have on others, their own strengths and weaknesses, and how others perceive them.
When people tell you something, they’re often looking for understanding instead of answers.
Try to listen without judging. Open your mind and make hearing their point of view your only goal, then let them know they were heard by repeating and summarizing what was said. Don’t offer advice or solutions unless you’re sure they want to hear them. Many managers stop asking their employees questions because they believe they already know the answers about what their employees think. By asking questions and truly understanding what your employees think, feel and what support they need from you, people will know you care.
Employees rightly desire and expect availability from their leaders.
To be consistently open and available to others, you need to develop empathic awareness, presence, openness as well as a mindset of genuine curiosity about others and their ideas and experiences. It is particularly helpful to develop good empathic and reflective listening skills to give others the experience of being seen, felt, and heard. It is also important to act on people’s input when appropriate and follow-through on promises or commitments.
A mindful leader should develop the ability to be more aware — be it of self or the surrounding.
Being more self-aware will help you reflect on your own thoughts, actions, decisions, and ideas. Just like your employees, you are as affected by a bad day of work. To lead your team better, it’s essential to take care of yourself first. Being more aware of your surroundings refers to looking out for the signs of burnout, disengagement, or problem in any member of your team. Ask, have a one-on-one conversation, and offer the best solution forward.
Strategy #4: Let Them Grow
Speaking of listening to creative ideas, a great leader is also the one providing valuable career opportunities to their employees. Everyone wants to grow and develop professionally, so most employees will jump at the opportunity of leading a new project, getting a promotion, or being sent on an important business trip.
You can either let them enjoy their work or you can incentivize them to aim higher and become an even better employee.
Finding new opportunities for your direct reports to grow and learn is a great way to show them that you have their back. Set up lunch-and-learn sessions, provide professional memberships and development opportunities, and pair people up for cross-training in a new area they’d like to learn more about.
Ask yourself: How did you learn to lead?
If you’re like most leaders, there were several significant factors — people, training, resources, time, etc. If we each made a list like this, we would find we all included actually leading something. The truth is that most of us learn the majority of what we know about leadership from leading. Actual hands-on experience helps people grow the most. Don’t miss the value of giving your people challenging work.
One of your most important duties as a leader is to hold space for your people.
The container can be explained as the energetic space you hold for someone so they can do their best and grow. The size of the container we hold for another person can affect who they become. If we don’t believe in that person and hold a small container, they will probably feel it and act accordingly. If we believe in that person and hold a large container, they will feel it and grow into the space we have reserved for them.
Unfortunately, most workplaces don’t value employees as much as they should.
Top-down leadership styles tend to be coercive, manipulative, and persuasive by nature. They’ve hired you to get a job done, and anything else is on your time. Growth opportunities usually occur when you job-hop to your next promotion at another company. If a person can’t grow with a company, they’ll usually grow away from it.
True leaders do not create more followers. They create more leaders.
Sadly, what we mostly find in the corporate world are weak leaders who try to keep others down. Their sole focus is on getting to the top, and they don’t care who they have to step on to reach there. Strong leaders build and lift others up. To elevate your employees takes strength, as helping them reach their full potential, may mean preparing them to replace you, or leave your company for better opportunities elsewhere. Only true leaders can do this.
Strategy #5: Be Grateful
If you don’t praise their achievements, your people will see that you don’t care and will stop trying to do more than they need to do as a part of their job. In other words, they can lose their passion altogether just because they see that there is nobody else who cares about what they are doing despite all the time and energy they put in.
When your feedback is genuine, people know that you care.
One of the best ways for leaders to demonstrate care is by thanking team members for their contributions and telling them they are grateful for the success they bring to the team. People work hard, and one of the best ways to show them you care is by simply expressing appreciation for the things they do. Whether it takes the form of a big celebration, a public shout-out, a personal note or even a quick “way to go” in the hallway, let people know you value their contribution to the team.
When people exceed your expectations, take notice. Not everyone acts like they want recognition, but most do.
We all want to be appreciated for the good work we do, and to feel that we play an important role in the companies we work for. When leaders show appreciation and gratitude to their employees, they clearly demonstrate their kindness — earning the respect, admiration and loyalty of their people in return. When a leader expresses recognition, employees feel appreciated and organizations accomplish great things.
People will do anything for leaders who praise their efforts and are appreciative, especially in times of struggle.
Be especially forthcoming with good news and praises for jobs well done. Surveys prove that simply appreciating someone’s work can be more important than any other factor in employee engagement,. The recipients of your appreciation will most likely be inspired to put forth an even greater effort to ensure they will be thanked again. That’s why the military gives ribbons and awards to soldiers. It keeps their hearts and minds in the battle, especially when the going gets tough.
Regardless of how your team members perform, they are human beings who deserve respect and recognition.
Good managers are always on the lookout, seeking to catch their teams doing something right. They understand that lavishing praise on their teams boosts confidence and well-being. When people feel appreciated, they return the favor by being more engaged and more productive. There’s something about praise that inspires people to work harder. Without the burden of feeling disliked or unappreciated, team members are free to focus on what truly matters: the mission and purpose of your company.
Every language in the world has a way of saying thank you.
This is because gratitude is universal–it crosses all boundaries, genders, ages, and nations. Gratitude is the glue that bonds societies and relationships. Gratitude in leadership can make an employee feel recognized, a co-worker feel appreciated, a manager feel acknowledged. Gratitude has the power to change everyone and everything.
Strategy #6: Respect Their Time
For most business owners and entrepreneurs, it is essential that employees value their jobs and know the consequences of not doing the work right. But a great leader should also understand that many people struggle to maintain a work-life balance.
A successful leader should value the work-life balance their employees are going for.
You don’t need to discuss private details of their lives, but you need to find a way to help them balance their jobs and their lives outside their jobs. Besides, you are probably trying to do so for yourself as well so it’s only logical that your team should be able to have the balance too.
Work with your team to help understand their ideal pace, the ideal level of stress for them. Then work with them to design their work-life balance.
Compassionate leaders support an employee’s work-life balance because while they know it is the right thing to do, when an employee does not have good work-life balance, bad things happen that usually have a negative impact on the job. When an employee has a personal situation, such as a birth or death in the family; an illness, a birthday, an accomplishment, etc., there is no better way to show you care than to acknowledge the situation and ask the employee if there is anything you can do to support them.
If this is your industry’s busy season, allow team members to take comp time at their preferred times.
Rather than mandate work schedules, allow team members to work out their own work schedules with each other, if possible. Likewise, if possible, give team members the option to work non-traditional shifts, perhaps three or four days per week, or a different number of days or hours on/off shift to best coordinate with their life partner’s schedule, child rearing demands, etc.
Encourage team members to periodically get away from the computer, especially if working from home.
Suggest they take advantage of scheduled break times to do things they normally may not be able to do when working from the office, such as spend time with the kids or their life partner, take a walk or bike ride for a change of scene, or just take a nap.
Leaders should consider the overall amount of autonomy they give employees — as that will directly affect how flexible they view their jobs.
Autonomy supports work-life balance because it means employees feel comfortable dictating their own work schedule — at least to some degree — and can thus make their own accommodations without feeling they always need a manager’s approval. They can take an hour-long run or bring their kids to the doctor without feeling like someone is always looking over their shoulder.
Strategy #7: Support Them
The best leaders are those who lead from the heart. Those who have the ability to inspire others through kindness, flexibility, support and empowerment. The best way to accomplish that is simply to be a genuinely positive person. It’s that easy. When you can develop a positive mental attitude and be the kind of leader who always has something uplifting to say, you make people feel comfortable around you.
Leaders are in front. They are the ones who are looking ahead and who have the extra job of encouraging their members that the goal far ahead is doable.
Use your time and words to encourage your team by pointing out the progress and how “we” will fill the gaps. People are people and cannot be treated as commodities to be used and thrown. Treating people like commodities comes for a price. There is only so long that you can get away with it. Sooner or later it catches up with you and could rock your leadership boat.
Caring for your team does not mean coddling or babying them. Nor, letting them off the hook.
Caring leaders know that when an employee needs their time or support. This is part of their job, and why managers are put in their positions. If no employees ever needed support to get their work done, there would be no need for a manager. When you give an employee your time, you are telling them they are important and you care.
Don’t lower expectations. Instead, get creative about helping your team acquire the proficiency needed to reach them.
Great leaders comfort their team, but never coddle them. Don’t shield your team from reality. But do allay unwarranted fears about external threats. And, help them manage their energy so stress doesn’t dissolve into unnecessary panic, exhaustion, or internal conflict. Ultimately, people want to feel looked out for. So, look out for your people.
Leadership is not a right that entitles you to treat people in the hierarchy below you, as you please.
Nor is it something that entitles you to put yourself completely out of your people’s reach and leave them guessing on what exactly is happening! Genuine leaders carve out time for other people regardless of how busy they are. They treat others the way they expect to be treated themselves! In the long run this creates a very collaborative work environment that not only enhances productivity but also catalyzes innovation.
When you are kind, your people don’t feel that you’re a cold robot — simply barking orders and demanding obedience.
Compassionate leaders seek influence — not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. They lead with hope. They guide, acknowledge and support team members to combine their efforts, skills, talents, insights, passion, enthusiasm and commitment to work together for the greater good. An environment where everyone can collaborate by sharing their ideas and offering creative solutions is an organization that thrives and — not coincidentally — where leadership excels.
When people have a good relationship with their leader, and they know their leader genuinely care about their development personally and professionally; they’re more motivated, they perform better, they are more inspired, and they’re more likely to go the extra mile to support their team and to help their leader and by extension the company achieve its goals and purpose.
People love to work for people who care about them.
Taking a personal interest in your employees will give them the reason to believe they mean more to you than someone who’s simply making the business money. Experiment with my 7 caring leadership strategies and your company morale and productivity will surely boost beyond your own expectations.
All in all, caring about what your employees are doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis is a must if you want to be a good leader.
As a leader, if you want people to be fully engaged and truly care about your success, the team’s success, and the organization’s success, then it is vital that, as a leader, you genuinely care about them. Remember this quote — No one cares how much you know or how much you are right…until they know and feel how much you genuinely care.
Leading with love and compassion is a winning leadership strategy on many levels.
Despite different approaches to leadership — kindness and concern for people always remains a key element for good business, It is very simple and does not require any additional investments besides attention and sincerity. All it takes is an investment of your time, energy and focus.
When you treat people with compassion they won’t soon forget. You cultivate people who want to work for you not because of what you do but because of who you are.
Lead from the front and constantly ask yourself, Am I helping my employees succeed? Am I showing them that I care about their progress? Answer yes to these questions, and you’ll be using your influence as a leaders to move the business forward with the team. Feel free to share your own leadership experience with our fellow Geeknackers in the comments below!