If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
1 out of 3 employees say that the boss doesn’t care about the staff. Until recently, leadership has always been about position and power rather than empowerment.
A simple secret to leadership that no one ever talks about is that if you genuinely care about your people, everything else will take care of itself.
Showing empathy and compassion doesn’t classify you as a pushover. It doesn’t mean you’re not focused on results, sales, and company growth. What genuinely caring for your team means is that you prioritize your time to ensure you focus on communication.
It takes time and attention, but the impact is worth it.
There's A Difference Between Boss and Leader
Whether you manage a team of 10 or 100, keep in mind the differences between a boss and a leader.
- Leaders inspire trust, a boss controls
- Leaders asks “why” and “what”, a boss asks “when” and “how”
- Leaders innovate, a boss administers
- Leaders coach, a boss drives
It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes a great leader, but a good indication is how employees feel about leaders and their qualities. According to a study of 5,600 people in 77 organizations, “the ability of a leader to be empathetic and compassionate has the greatest impact on organizational profitability and productivity.”
So, while hard work and delegation abilities are important qualities to have as a leader, it turns out that being a genuinely empathetic person is even more important — at least to the people who matter the most (employees).
Benefits of Genuinely Caring About Your People
Being a great leader means caring about your people. It seems so obvious, but caring is about actions, not just words.
You can ask how they’re doing today, but if you’re scrolling on your phone the entire time and not paying attention — it’s evident that you’re only asking out of habit. Or you can ask, “what can I do to help you?” But if you never follow through, then you’re just unreliable.
When your people feel like they truly belong, and feel like they can truly be themselves, they’re more productive. They know they can bring their concerns and vulnerabilities without running the risk of punishment. They know their strengths and creativity — and they put 100% into the work they’re doing.
How to Be an Empathetic Leader
1. Get Personal
Show interest in your people’s lives. Make it your goal to make a personal connection with every member of your team.
- Ask questions and really listen.
- Remember details such as birthdays, anniversaries, the names of family members, important events in the lives of your team.
- Strive to learn something new about someone every day/week
- Meet new team members as they onboard.
The end result is a more engaged team. A Gallup survey about what employees want from their managers notes that “Among employees who strongly agree that they can approach their manager with any type of question, 54% are engaged.
2. Help Them See the Impact They Make
Ask your people what they believe their impact is in the organization and share with them the impact you know they make.
We all want to know that what we do matters, that our time, energy, and creativity add up to something important. Help each person who works for you see the difference they make. They’ll be more invested in the work and achieving the big goals.
3. Measure What Matters
What you measure as a sales manager is helpful for you and senior leaders, but not so much for your team.
Help your people measure what matters to them. What can they measure every day/week/month to know they were successful? Finding the metrics that matter takes time with each team member, but the engagement, determination, and motivation is worth it.
It's Time to Change The Way We Think and Lead
Showing your team that you genuinely care doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. But it does have to be a priority.
The mentality of “I’m not here to babysit. We pay them to do a job.” And “showing emotions and empathy just isn’t my leadership style” are gone. It’s time to understand that genuinely caring for your people is the root of success.
If you can appreciate and support that the hard work is being done by your individual contributors, then you’ll begin viewing your team through a lens of gratitude.
Caring about your people create a bond of trust and loyalty. Loyalty is what makes great people stay even when times are tough. Start small and learn as you go. It will make all the difference.