Leadership is first about those you lead and secondly about the results you achieve. So, are you focused on the task to be accomplished or the people under your leadership who accomplish the task? Many successful leaders will tell you that it was only when they became people-focused that they were able to achieve success.
Some leaders hold to a popular idea which says, “When you show up for work leave your personal problems at the door.” If this were possible, you would not have embezzlements, affairs, fights, drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace. As a result of this kind of thinking, many leaders do not want to know about the personal struggles of those they lead. Very often these same leaders are seen as uncaring and demanding.
It is unrealistic to expect the employee whose child is sick at home, or who found out over the weekend that their spouse is having an affair with their best friend, to show up to work and check their personal problems at the door. Yet too many leaders expect those they lead to respond like this.
As a leader who is called by God, your leadership should first demonstrate a care for the people you lead, and then concern for the results you hope to achieve. Peter Drucker puts it this way, “When you hire a hand, it comes with head and heart attached.” To get those you lead to give their best, you have to show them that you care about the whole person, rather than seeing them just as employees who were hired to do a task.
“One of the most fundamental lessons of leadership is that if you’re a leader, it’s not about you. It’s about the people following you. The best leaders devote almost all of their energy to inspiring and enabling others. Taking care of them is a big part of this.” George Bradt.
So how do good leaders take care of those they lead?
Be nonjudgmental. For a leader to care about those they lead, they must be nonjudgmental. They must learn to see all people as created by God and worthy of love, respect and care regardless of their circumstances. This is not easy for most of us since we all have our biases as to who is deserving of grace and who is not.
A deliberate decision is required on your part as leader to put aside your biases and show genuine care for those you lead. You may not agree with some of their choices, but that does not mean you cannot show genuine care for them.
Be respectful. The tendency to be disrespectful of those you lead is easy because you have authority over them. The challenge as a leader is to see each person for who they are, as person who is deserving of respect, not through the lens of your authority over them. Disrespect is shown in many different ways including ignoring emails, interrupting conversation, criticizing or putting down someone’s idea, shaming others, etc. It is important that you as a leader show your followers that you really do care by always being respectful.
Show compassion. Some leaders are so results-driven that they come across as having no compassion for those under their authority. They appear to be unmoved by the pain and struggles of those around them. As a result, their followers push through tough circumstances rather than approaching their leaders with the difficulties they are facing.
As a leader, take the time to show that you care by being a good listener, inquiring about the well-being of your followers. Be ready to be flexible to accommodate some of the difficult challenges of life and work your followers or employees face.
“At the end of the day, the effort of a single person (you) doesn’t scale well. To achieve remarkable results, you must rely on those around you. Unfortunately, people don’t work effectively together by default. As a result, a large chunk of your effort as a leader should be spent on relationships in order to achieve the results you’re looking for.” Robert Greiner
I am not suggesting that you become a counselor to those you lead or that you become bogged down with their personal problems; that would take valuable time away from what you were hired to do, that is, to lead your followers to achieve certain results. What I am suggesting is that you invest enough time in the relationships with those you lead to show that you care about them beyond the results you want to achieve.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.