Something I often hear about leadership is the misunderstanding of the care that goes into it. Leading in a robotic way and lacking emotional intelligence within your organization will cause you to lose sight of the human aspect of your workplace culture. Eventually, you’ll default to treating your employees like a number. Many of us can think of the exact leader and the exact job where we felt like we were overworked and underappreciated. Then as time went on…we left. You never want your employees to question the importance of their presence and consider leaving their job behind because leadership is mediocre at best. There are many pieces to running a successful, caring organization that your employees genuinely want to work for.
One of the easiest ways to show your employees you care for them is just that…show it! Show you appreciate them by acknowledging their excellent work and being grateful for the skill set they bring to the table. They perform a job that takes something off of your plate and makes your organization smoothly. Take the time to praise them for their efforts and let them know you couldn’t do it without them. They’ll feel like they’re contributing to that bigger mission and work even harder to keep the environment productive.
You should be just as invested in your employees’ work-life balance as they are. Remember, your organization’s production goals hinge on the quality of work that your people can produce. If they fail to have a proper work-life balance, it can compromise the quality of work they get done. Have an open door policy where they feel comfortable enough to share things with you, especially life-changing events. I’ve seen many leaders in the past bring in other team members who may have looked great on paper but in the end, we’re just another unproductive employee. So in an effort to force out the one who was struggling, they created yet another problem for themselves instead of offering their support to the employee who was trying their best through their home life struggles.
Active listening is a huge component of any successful organization, but most importantly, the leadership that backs it. Sadly, many managers still underestimate the critical importance of creating a listening culture. I have seen time and time again the impacts of executive leaders failing to pay attention to those they lead, and it’s usually by managers failing to properly advocate for the voices of those on their teams. Of course, there’s no pleasing everyone, but providing listening sessions and giving your people the opportunity to speak up when asking them open-ended questions will show them that you do truly care what they have to say and want to do what you can to support them in the ways that they need.
There are many ways to exhibit trust to your employees, but delegation and empowerment are often the easiest. Entrusting them with a job or task and seeing it through will show that you feel comfortable with them and trust their skills and capabilities. Increasing responsibility can be a huge confidence boost, but counter that with smart delegation. Provide a reasonable workload and always check in with your teams to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed or overloaded. Empower them to do work that lights their hearts a fire and watch their happiness increase.
The number one way to tell if someone is willing to engage with you is their body language. So many organizational leaders think that being actively present doesn’t bear much weight in their organization’s success, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Have you ever been around a leader who couldn’t get off their phone or stop talking with another member of management long enough to acknowledge the other employees they pass by? Or they only address one person in big meetings? Don’t be that disconnected. Be present, be engaged, make eye contact, and show each of your employees that you care about what they have to say.
Nurturing your leadership style and workplace culture is like nurturing a real relationship. It requires listening, appreciation, trust, balance, and continuous attention. If any of those things fall short, the relationship will falter, and eventually, everything you worked so hard to build will be nonexistent. Leading your organization and establishing your workplace culture work the same way. If you don’t continually nurture your employee relationships, they won’t be as willing to give that same effort back to the organization. Let every voice be heard, encourage empathy, and practice these soft skills for organizational efficiency.