We all know the saying "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." You are not going to be able to inspire your people to dig deep, contribute their discretionary energy and go above and beyond the call of duty unless they genuinely feel valued and cared for. I've said over and over that leadership is exercised one conversation at a time. I also say that relationships are built one conversation at a time.
It is all About Connection
People are inspired by managers and leaders who take the time and trouble to connect with them. You know you are experiencing a connection with someone when you:
- have a personal conversation with someone about something that is important to you, and you feel heard and understood;
- you slow down enough in your day to really listen to a colleague and empathise with their story, parking your own busyness and priorities for that moment;
- help someone out without any expectation of anything in return;
- share an experience that involves laughter and warmth of feeling.
Connection is Based on Positive Assumptions
We are best able to connect with people in our work environments when we hold generally positive assumptions about people. This means that make the following types of positive assumptions:
- most people are basically good and have good intentions;
- everyone is doing their best;
- people generally come to work intending to do a good day's work;
- nobody gets up in the morning and asks themselves what they can do today to really get up your nose!
I know there are some exceptions, but if we hold generally positive assumptions about people, they generally rise to the occasion.
Positive assumptions are important because they impact on your sincerity. You cannot slow down and truly listen to someone's difficult experience if your basic assumption is that people are basically lazy. You will not share a personal experience with someone if your basic assumption is that they can't be trusted.
Why is Care a Non-negotiable?
We have all worked with that manager who says quite openly "I don't really care about ...! I just want them to do their flippin' job!" My response to this is always the same. If you don't care, then the best you can expect from them is that they will do what is expected - and nothing more! You will get nothing exceptional. You cannot inspire greatness if this is the kind of manager you are. You will get compliance. That's it.
Even worse is the fact that you will always have to use a certain amount of coercion - threats, nagging, table thumping, discipline. This is what makes it a no brainer for me. Why would you choose a management style that requires constant pushing, frustration and annoyance? Why is this easier or preferable to choosing a management style that is based on authentic relationships based on mutual best interests?
You Can Make Magic
When you take the time to build relationships; when you show that you have their best interests at heart; when they start to care in return and have your best interests at heart - that is when you and you team can make magic. We dig much deeper when we care about our colleagues and our manager. Creating an environment in which people care about each other doesn't just create a nicer work environment - it results in greater effort, more creativity and innovation and better results.
If you are a leader/manager and you recognise that you need to become a more inspiring leader, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's discuss your coaching programme.