Are you Leading with Care? Great Leaders Care!
I believe most would agree that there are big differences between managers and leaders. Leaders can’t be effective without leading with care and helping those they lead feel valued.
I recall a story I had heard several years ago. A farmer and his workers had just finished harvesting a truck load of sugar beets. They were on their way to the sugar refinery with a full load.
The route to the refinery was a bumpy dirt road. While making the journey several of the beets fell off the truck. Most farmers would have continued the journey and not thought much about the few that had fallen. However, this farmer was different.
He pulled over to the side of the road and instructed his workers to
retrieve the fallen beets. They looked at him confused; so much work for so few beets. But this farmer explained to them that there was just as much sugar in those few that had slipped as those that had remained.
I am fond of saying that leaders care. And if a leader doesn’t care, they ought not be a leader. I realize that this opinion may not resonate with some, but I see leadership as a calling with great responsibility to those who are led.
The difference between managers and leaders is that managers improve productivity – leaders improve lives. Managers change numbers and processes – leaders change lives.
Each beet on the truck has value. Each person in an organization or on a team has value as well. While all may not have the same gifts and talents, they all have value and leaders have a responsibility to find it and help nurture it.
If we compare the beets in this story to people, it isn’t difficult to imagine how important those beets that fell off the truck must have felt. At first they may have felt hurt, lonely and uncertain. But as the farmer came back they must have felt inspired, felt a greater sense of loyalty and felt more valued.
When leaders care, those they lead get it; they feel it and know it. The result is huge. People feel more valued and are more loyal resulting in higher retention and better production.
What can leaders do to help those they lead feel cared about? It’s pretty simple.
1. Show an Interest. Leaders that care take an interest in the families, hobbies and feelings of those they lead. They are also great listeners. I have always appreciated a boss who knew when it was my birthday, asked how my kids were doing and even knew their names or took an interest in a hobby I had.
2. Communicate. Communication includes helping those you lead understand your goals and expectations as well as the organizations. It also includes cascading important information so those you lead aren’t left to fill in the gaps. And being as open and transparent as possible is also important.
3. Appreciate, Reward and Recognize. I kid you not, I once had a boss send me a Foosball table. He knew I enjoyed playing Foosball and this was a token of his appreciation for me. Do you think I doubted in any way that he cared about me? Appreciation, rewards and recognition don’t have to be as big as a Foosball table, but you get the point. Leaders who care take the time to do something special for those they lead.
Question: What ways have you or someone you have been led by made you feel valued and showed that they cared? How important is it to you that leaders care?
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Leaders care when they show an interest, communicate and appreciate, reward and recognize.