“The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.”
― Carson McCullers
One of the coolest things about writing this blog is the opportunity is has presented for me to think about things differently and to work to be better. There have been several times where I’ve had an inner monologue that goes like this:
“This seems counterproductive. Why do we do it this way? Are we doing it this way simply because it always has been? Can we do it better?”
Among the numerous conversations Noah and I have had about servant leadership and showing those that we lead that we care about them, I have come across some things in my school studies that exemplified these things. In a recent case study, a manager had an employee that was very emotional and generally moody. When she had to deliver an evaluation to this employee, it turned bad rather quickly. Instead of plodding through it, though, she stopped and redirected. She asked the employee to not sign the evaluation, but to take it home, review it with his wife and family, and then bring it back the next day to discuss. What this manager was doing was showing this employee that she cared about him by allowing the evaluation to set in, be internalized, and discussed among people the employee trusts. The end result was that the employee, after discussion with loved ones, realized the evaluation was spot-on and he agreed to work on his demeanor. Could you do that? Would you?
Do we always take the proper steps as leaders and coaches to let the people we lead know that we care about them and that they do good work? I’d argue that it’s almost easier to do the opposite. A manager is expected to be tough with their employees because they’ll respond to that, right? I’d further argue that doing the opposite is more effective and will create a better working relationship and environment. As coaches, we all remember playing for that hard-nosed guy that screamed and yelled under the premise of getting the best out of you or molding you. We’d like to believe that he cared about us, but we don’t really know. How much more effective would leadership be if leaders could be firm but fair, and caring all at the same time?
At the risk of sounding like a brown-noser, one of the greatest qualities of my current boss is how often she tells us that we’re awesome. She regularly tells us about the importance of our role and how well we’re doing in that role. I don’t know if this is something she tries to do purposely, but I’d bet the house that it’s not. It’s something that she does naturally because she knows that it motivates us to be as good as we can possibly be. On the other hand, she has no qualms with letting us know if we jack something up. That’s the firm but fair part. The key here is in the delivery. She will tell us when we’ve screwed up, but will reassure us that she’s confident that it will not be an ongoing issue. This is what we should strive for: that happy medium, that balance, that confidence in our people.
So, give it a shot. The next time your folks do something awesome, tell them about it. Or, better yet, just tell them anyway, even if they haven’t done something awesome. The way people feel about their leadership can certainly be reflected in their demeanor and desire.
Have an awesome Friday,