A 2014 study from the Harvard Business Review surveying over 3,000 employees across multiple industries highlighted the fact that employees who felt a sense of care and empathy in the workplace were more satisfied and committed to their jobs, and felt significantly more accountable for their performance than those who didn’t.
Why does showing care and empathy seem so difficult to some leaders?
There’s no getting around it. As a leader, you’re faced with a variety of challenges day in and day out. Deadlines to achieve, customers to meet, reports to produce, shareholders to meet, and not forgetting, people to lead. There can be no denying that the most successful leaders are those who can effectively motivate and inspire the people around them – after all, people are the lifeblood of any organisation.
A model that I like to refer to when coaching leaders on their leadership style is Daniel Goleman’s Six Leadership Styles. He identified that these styles, when used in the right situations and in the right way can produce powerful results.
1. Coercive leaders: demand immediate compliance.
2. Authoritative leaders: mobilise people toward a vision.
3. Affiliative leaders: create emotional bonds and harmony.
4. Democratic leaders: build consensus through participation.
5. Pacesetting leaders: expect excellence and self-direction.
6. Coaching leaders: develop people for the future.
Why do some people in leadership roles get it so very wrong?
We’ve all experienced the leader who prefers to use one style only, assume that they need to know it all, dish out the orders and relish the fact that they’re the ‘boss’. How very old school.
The best leaders recognise that to get the best out of people, they have to ensure that their teams feel valued and cared for. This is echoed by Mark R. Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, North Carolina; he describes ‘relational value’ as the basic human requirement to feel appreciated by our superiors.
Yet the importance of feeling valued can often be overlooked by some leaders who can focus solely on the task rather than the people, not uncommon in a results-driven business climate. Those who fall into this state of single-mindedness tend to forget that their teams are actually made up of people with complex emotions and lives that stretch far beyond the workplace. The best leaders recognise that achieving great results, has to be done through understanding their people.
John C. Maxwell highlights in his article: “Why a Compassionate Leader Gets Results…” (www.success.com, March 2017) that employees look for their leaders to answer the following three questions, before they will truly co-operate with them:-
Question 1: Do you care for me?
Question 2: Can you help me?
Question 3: Can I trust you?
Is caring for your team really the answer?
While it’s difficult to quantify the effect that caring and feeling valued can have; there are enough signs out there to indicate that a great leader gets his or her workforce to thrive by creating a culture where showing care and empathy can produce strong results.
Is it time to go and ask your team how they would honestly answer those three important questions about you?
If you are looking to improve your own leadership style or the leadership in your business, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.