Friday, June 19, 2015

Empathy & Solidarity: The Keys To Quality Leadership

Leadership: It’s one of those words you hear so often it almost fails to retain any meaning. Most messages on leadership are unoriginal, platitudinous, and generic. 

And so, when you’re called into a conference room for an “inspirational” speech about leadership, you know exactly the buzzword-ridden script you’re going to hear, and you end up unmoved by the whole affair.

Perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at this old word, with its tired speeches and cliche homilies, and think about how we can rejuvenate it and bring it back to life, to relevance, to meaning. 

So how exactly does one become a good leader? 

It starts with empathy and solidarity -- two words not always associated with leadership. 

The best leaders look out for those around them, take care of those who have given them the honor of being followed in the first place. You’re in a position of trust, and that is a great responsibility to bear. It is difficult indeed to feel alone, rudderless, and lost at sea at your desk. We've all been there. If there’s no impression of camaraderie, an employee is not going to be inspired to do her best work. Making a connection with employees helps to keep them from feeling detached and alienated.

The most important thing a good leader can do is express to her employees their value -- and, even better, to truly believe in their value. After all, the employees were hired for a reason. If you view your employees as merely bodies that do work and not as unique, skilled people, they'll know it and will perform accordingly.

The best leaders look to grow the potential in their employees. They don't give blanket tasks to people: they find, recognize, and develop employees’ specific skill sets. In the long run, it’s better for management, employees, and for the overall business. If you can make your employees feel that they are more than cogs in the machine, that they are valued for their individuality and uniqueness, they’ll be more likely to come to work feeling like they have a purpose beyond the next paycheck. 

A good rule of thumb is to treat your employees as well as you would your customers. The result will be a thriving and happy business. Don’t promise stellar customer service if you’re not willing to extend the same courtesies to your own employees. It’s hypocritical and counterproductive. Foster an environment of positivity instead and you'll reap the benefits. Happy employees make happy customers, and happy customers means more sales, and more sales means more money -- a win-win-win!

To be sure, being a leader sometimes means letting people go. Sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions that might not be popular and that might hurt feelings. But do what you can to empathize anyway, even when letting go of an employee. Be honest, but tactful. Give advice, but without condescension. As always, a little kindness goes a long way. There's no use in producing bitterness and resentment. 

Long story short: take the time to empathize with your employees. Treat them right and they'll reward you with increased productivity.  It's not always easy to be empathetic, but it's worth the effort. It’s hard work being a good leader, but you’re up to the task.

You can get a head start on being a good leader by getting organized with Inspherio. Manage employee payroll, appointments, tasks, and more all in one easy-to-access program. Try our free 30-day trial and see how easy it is to manage your workforce with Inspherio!

1 comment:

  1. There are so many "leaders" that need to read this! Making employees feel like they are a dime a dozen does not promote healthy working habits. If they were organized, they would have time to spend with their employees and foster a good working environment.