I have worked with many organizations of all sizes throughout my career and helped them transform their employee engagement and leadership development. After earning my stripes throughout multiple industries, I am often affectionately referred to as the “The Employee Whisperer.” My ethos is simple, as an empathetic person, I deeply value the contributions of everyone, whether directly or indirectly, on my team.
Everyone who is reading this will have encountered managers who genuinely cared for them and those who did not. Those who do not genuinely care leave employees feeling like they are just a number. You may have found yourself thinking or overheard others say, “I don’t understand why they do not care about all my efforts” or “They don’t care about the hours I work; they just want me to get the work done.”
By contrast, those managers who made you feel that you had an important role to play in a team’s success and the organization would have gotten the best out of you. After what seemed like a lifetime of repeatedly hearing and reading about these same scenarios and experiences, I set out to clearly define what caring leadership looked like and how leading with heart uplifts teams and organizations.
My work, combined with insights from 80 podcast interviews, inspired me to write a book called The Art of Caring Leadership. I wanted to create a blueprint that would empower any leader to form their own masterplan to show they care in very definitive ways. Ultimately, I wanted to help readers understand how the ROI of diversity, inclusion, and belonging can transform their company culture and improve their business performance.
After 12 months of working from home, many teams will be collectively feeling that their world has been turned upside down. An increasing number of employees will also be feeling battered and taken for granted, and that whatever they offer will mean nothing to the organization. Although some think they are a caring leader, they will unwittingly steer the organization into even more stormy waters if they fail to address these issues.
We all know good leaders who carefully avoided the dreaded “micromanager” title when working alongside their colleagues in the office. Unfortunately, when asked to lead their teams in a new remote working environment, many lost their way and drifted into micromanaging tactics. However, in this period of uncertainty, caring leaders automatically reached into their toolkit of skills, aptitudes, and attitudes.
A ‘command and control’ or ‘my way or the highway’ approach will do more harm than good in any organization. Jim Reuter, president and CEO of FirstBank, shared with me the importance of authenticity “I think one of the most important things is to know yourself. People see authenticity, and they know it right away when they see it, and they’ll get behind that.” By learning the value that relationships and focusing on authentic communication can bring, you can also drive better performance and results across the entire organization.
Caring leaders understand that they must care for their people before expecting anything in return. When I spoke to Dirk Frese of Julabo USA about the power of connection, he told me: “Sometimes you cannot look each other in the eyes, but if you listen to the heart of the other person, then you can connect, and when you connect, you can empower your staff, or you can empower your customer, and motivate him or her.”
In another conversation, Mindy Flanigan, founder, and chief inspiration officer of Inspiring HR, shared with me, “One thing I’ve learned, whether you’re remote or you’re in an office with the people that work with you every day, you’ve got to give everybody individual face time.” This separate undivided attention helps those we lead feel genuinely seen and valued for just being themselves.
These powerful quotes are just a few examples of the real life leadership experiences that I feature in my book, The Art of Caring Leadership. I believe that leaders who invest their time in reading and learning from the stories of other caring leaders will become known as leaders who genuinely care and proudly lead with their hearts.
Over the next few weeks, I will share other inspirational stories that highlight the transformational impacts that caring leadership can bring to every organization. You can find out more details and pre-order my new book here. But I also encourage you all to reach out and share insights from your own leadership journey with me.