Every leader wants to think of themselves as caring, but in my experience, I’ve found that most fall short of demonstrating that they care in consistent and meaningful ways. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the term “caring leadership” is somewhat vague. In my eyes, caring leadership means taking daily actions to show concern and kindness to those we work with. It means prioritizing the human over the employee in someone, and selflessly helping them succeed for themselves first and the organization second.
So why is caring leadership even necessary? Simply put, caring leaders are undeniably better, more effective leaders. The more that leaders express care for those they lead, the more their followers will feel inspired to go above and beyond for the benefit of that leader, that team, and perhaps most importantly, for themselves.
If your main focus as a leader is on the business side of things, caring leadership can augment the bottom line, too; employees’ enthusiasm for reducing costs, increasing focus, meeting client needs is exponentially higher if they feel cared for by those who lead them. Daniel Goleman’s research highlights this connection between showing a genuine interest in people, increased productivity, and reduced employee turnover.
I often advise those hoping to elevate their leadership style through care & empathy to start with self-leadership skills. Why start there? One cannot begin to show caring leadership to others if they do not care for themselves first. This entails re-familiarizing yourself with your core purpose and why you want to lead, consistently growing your professional and emotional skill set, recalibrating your communication strategies, or simply taking time to care for your mind, body and spirit. Once you refine these internal qualities, you will find you are better equipped to create safe spaces where you can make others feel important and bring out the best in them.
Caring leadership is most critical now more than ever. With so much pain inside and outside the workplace, everyone is seeking leaders to make them feel cared for in purposeful ways. Today’s employee needs a leader who knows that what you put into a relationship is what you get out of it, and that caring leadership has the power to extend beyond the professional environment and ripple into other communities. With a little work, that leader can be you.
If you found this article insightful and you are ready to begin your own caring leadership journey, pre-order my upcoming book, The Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations. You’ll find more techniques to help you become the best leader you can be, and powerful, real world stories of those who embody caring leadership every day.th