One of the easiest things for someone in a leadership position to do is tell their people that they care about them. The reality is, many followers doubt the sincerity of those words. That’s why Authentic Leaders remove all doubt by demonstrating, on a consistent basis, that they do actually care about their people. Demonstrating that you’re a caring leader is essential for creating a positive and productive organizational culture. It builds trust among your team members and promotes their well-being.
There are about a gazillion ways to show you care, here are several that can have an immediate impact with your team.
• Pay close attention to your team members when they speak. Show empathy by nodding, making eye contact, and asking clarifying questions. This demonstrates that you value their thoughts and concerns.
• Encourage open and honest communication within your team. Create safe spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas, problems, and feedback without fear of judgment or reprisal. By the way, it’s best if the entire organization is one giant safe space. People looking over their shoulder to see if it’s “safe” to say something are less productive than those who know their safety is assured.
• Put yourself in your team members’ shoes. Try to understand their perspectives, feelings, and needs. When they face challenges or personal issues, express empathy and offer support.
• Be accessible to your team. Make sure they know they can come to you with their concerns, whether they are work-related or personal. Maintain an open-door policy, or set aside regular times for one-on-one meetings.
• Acknowledge and appreciate your team members’ contributions and accomplishments. Recognition can be verbal praise, written notes, or other forms of acknowledgment, and it shows that you value their efforts.
• Invest in your team’s professional growth. Help them set and achieve their career goals. Provide opportunities for learning and skill development, and offer guidance and mentorship.
• Promote a healthy work-life balance. Encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and avoid overloading them with excessive work. Show understanding when they need to attend to personal matters.
• Be flexible when possible. Accommodate reasonable requests for flexible work hours to accommodate people’s needs. Things like family responsibilities or personal health issues matter and you should never ignore them.
• Address conflicts and disagreements within the team promptly and impartially. Encourage a resolution process that respects everyone’s perspectives and feelings. You’ll likely have to fight the normal human behavior of playing favorites but if you want complete engagement of your team you will fight that fight.
• Demonstrate the behaviors and values you expect from your team. Show that you prioritize caring and empathy in your interactions with others.
• Recognize that each team member is unique. Tailor your leadership style and support to their individual needs and preferences. Remember, the “one size fits all” leadership style generally fits no one.
• Continuously seek feedback from your team on your leadership style and areas for improvement. Show that you are open to making changes based on their input. Listen to them and implore as many of their ideas as possible and when you can’t implement an idea tell them exactly why.
There is no doubt that consistently demonstrating that you care for your people requires effort, sometimes even great effort. But the rewards make those efforts well worthwhile. It’s also possible your efforts at showing you care will spill over into your personal life as well and improve all your relationships.
So you see, showing you care won’t only change the lives of those you lead, it could very well change your life too.