Modeling Caring Leadership Behaviors in Hard Times

If you’ve been following my blog or my journey, or if you just found me, you may have heard that on Tuesday, April 13th, I published my second book, The Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. And, while I’ve written about Caring Leadership extensively in the past, today I want to give you all a glimpse of some of the Caring Leadership behaviors that my book outlines and details with real-life examples of Caring Leaders. 

Together, we will explore what it means to model these Caring Leader behaviors, but rather than discuss them at a general level, I will reveal three Caring Leader behaviors as seen in a common organizational struggle. 

How many of us have been a part of an organization going through a major change, one which affects all levels of the business? Well, I have been through times like these, and I recently heard about someone else’s similar experience and was inspired to write this post.

What organizational struggle am I referring to? The merger. If any of you have ever been through a merger, then you might be all too familiar with the power struggle and chaos of reforming an organization from top to bottom. 

A participant in my weekly HR Community Power Hour recently shared with me the hardship of a merger and the clouds it has cast, making it hard to pinpoint where exactly Caring Leadership exists within the organization. The scale of change brought about by a merger can take up all of the leadership team’s time and energy, leaving them little room to focus on other important things—their employees and their wellbeing. 

Before you can have a great leadership team, you have to have great leaders. Each one must stand in their own shoes, understand the behaviors of a Caring Leader, and choose to dedicate themselves to these behaviors and actions each day, within and outside the walls of the workplace. 

A Deeper Look at Three Caring Leadership Behaviors:

If you find yourself as part of a leadership team while your organization enters into a more stressful or demanding phase of change, I challenge you to hone in on the following Caring Leadership behaviors: Self-Leadership, Making Others Feel Important, and Creating a Listening Culture.

How does a leader model Self-Leadership? Why is this specific behavior one that deserves attention, especially when work seems to zap all of our time and energy?

If you are constantly giving of yourself to big projects and time-consuming problem-solving, you are clearly a leader that finds themself caught up in the day-to-day operations of the company, with little or no room left for the act of leadership. I challenge each of you to take a small step back and choose to focus on your own needs at least once this week.

How can you show yourself empathy and compassion amidst the fast-paced and demanding nature of your work? How will you exercise self-care and by consequence, self-leadership this week?

Me? I’m going to get my workout in each day, because I know without that “me time” each morning, I won’t be able to focus or give as much of myself to my work and the people that deserve my undivided attention. 

How does a leader model making others feel important? Why is this behavior crucial, especially when our jobs seem to be keeping us on the edge of our seats as our organizations steamroll through crazy times?

If your company is in the trenches of mapping out a merger, then the operational requirements of overseeing this change probably leave little room to invest in the other parts of your organization—your people. After you take some time to meet your own needs this week, I challenge you to raise your head from the work in front of you and to turn towards your employees. Extend the warmth of greeting them with empathy and compassion. If you are stressed and feeling worn down through this trying period, then I guarantee your employees are feeling those exact emotions. Showing them appreciation and attention, especially when the going gets tough, will prove to them your level of true care. 

How does a leader model their ability to listen? Why is this behavior absolutely important when we find ourselves and our organizations stretched too thin in the face of rapid change?

When we find ourselves bogged down by work that demands our full attention, we tend to lessen our focus on how we show up, as stress and time constraints weigh us down. When I think back on that conversation with my colleague on that HR Community Call, I imagine that the leaders who were creating confusion and tension were, themselves, feeling the same. As a leader, your job is to guide the people. You lead your team. Before being able to assist with operational tasks, you must be there for your employees. The best way to show them you care and help lessen the blows dealt by experiences like mergers, is to turn your attention to them and listen to them. And then affirm what you hear through action. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take in feedback, process it, act upon it, and then connect the dots for those who provided the feedback, on how you intend to move forward. 

If you are interested in learning more about the other 6 Caring Leadership behaviors, you should read The Art of Caring Leadership.

If your interest extends beyond just reading the book, then I would like to personally invite you to complete The Caring Leadership Self-Assessment, join the Caring Leadership Community, and consider taking a course, or working with a coach in the Caring Leadership Academy

I look forward to welcoming you to every aspect of this Caring Leadership ecosystem my team and I have worked so hard to create, to help develop Caring Leaders and improve organizations across the globe!

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Leadership With Heart With Heather R Younger

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