Leaders who care have teams that perform

There is a business case for kindness – and it goes well beyond the warm and fuzzy. It turns out that managers who care have teams that perform. Now I’ve felt this way for years. I’ve seen it in previous managers and in my clients…but if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can ask the S&P (Standard & Poor’s 500 Index).

A recent webinar with Dan Ariely, Ph. D., renowned behavioral economist and leader of Irrational Capital and Doug Claffey, founder and chief strategy officer of Energage (the company behind Top Workplaces) showed that during COVID companies whose leaders were highly rated in the areas of Appreciation, Helping Learn & Grow, and Caring also showed S&P 500 growth.

Maybe your first thought is, “Well that’s great, but those companies have tons of money to spend on those touchy feely things.” Guess what? They didn’t even have to spend money. Their data showed that employees who received a personal text or note from a leader felt just as (or more) valued than those whose companies offered free lunches or similar programs!

Here are some simple questions that go a long way:

How are you doing?
How can I help?
What can we do differently to do better?

Another way to make a big impact is by providing as much context as possible in response to the question of, “Where are we headed and why?” This may be a more complicated question to answer; but when everything is uncertain, regular communication is critical.

We know that many things in organizations are uncertain right now. Even if you’re a leader, you might be feeling a significant amount of uncertainty. Between 9 months of a global pandemic, a fractured political system and stresses that many of us never imagined being a part of daily life, it’s hard to feel certain about anything.

Tap into your strengths. If you’re reading this, I trust that we’re aligned on a few things like human kindness and empathy. Tap into those. Maybe you can’t answer all of the questions your team asks you; but you can make absolutely sure that you listen to them and let them talk. You can keep your one-on-ones with them. You can ask about their lives outside of work. You can send a quick Friday text to wish them a restful weekend.

Please don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers. Use the 3 simple questions above and use them regularly. Show your people that you care – turns out that “soft” skill is a pretty great way to impact the “hard” numbers.

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