Good Leaders C.A.R.E.

February is the perfect time to show them something we’ve said many times in our coaching sessions with clients: “Good Leaders C.A.R.E.”

Well, it’s February, and love is in the air. Or at least in the corner drug store—heart-shaped boxes of chocolates have been crowding the shelves since the day after New Year’s.

There’s no missing those colorful reminders that now is the time to express your affection to the special people in your life.

But how about your work team? They’re special, aren’t they?

Of course, they are. And February is the perfect time to show them something we’ve said many times in our coaching sessions with clients: “Good Leaders C.A.R.E.”

As a manager of other human beings, caring needs to be a regular part of your supervisory game plan. It comes naturally to some people but not so naturally to others. So, if you’re one of the latter, it is important to take steps to make sure it takes place. (Start with the chocolate.)

But we like to think of C.A.R.E. in another sense too. As you build your personal brand and legacy as a leader and manager, these four critical components of leadership cannot be overlooked.

“C” is for Clarity.

  • Good leaders let their teams know EXACTLY what is needed and expected of them. This begins with clear and understandable job duties and responsibilities,
  • a readily transparent and straightforward chain of command,
  • realistic yet challenging goals,
  • all communicated in a clear and structured manner.

Over the years, we’ve encountered a surprising number of organizations in which clarity is a rare commodity. For example, businesses with no formal job descriptions, no employee success plans, and no real way to hold anyone accountable. 

Without these key components in place, you’re destined to experience a different kind of “C” that you can ill afford—“Confusion.”

“A” is for “Attention.”

If you are a manager responsible for the performance of others, your job begins with creating a clear definition of the goals for your team. But your work doesn’t stop there—if you’re not paying attention to whether those goals are accomplished, you’re just flying blind.

Good leaders need consistent and structured ways to keep an eye on their team’s progress and the performance of all its individual members. Regular performance evaluations and reviews are key to this process. In addition, good leaders need casual and more frequent methods of paying attention too. These might be regular check-ins, staff meetings, progress reports on major projects, and simple water cooler chats.

Not only will you benefit from enhanced awareness of your current state of business, but your team will benefit from knowing you’re paying attention. And not in an intimidating way but as part of a unified effort that shows everyone in the organization takes pride in what you’re working to accomplish. Keep this in mind as you provide feedback, either positive or corrective, and keep everyone engaged.

“R” is for “Respect.”

And about that corrective feedback…. don’t shy away from it. Good leaders know that if things need to be fixed and performance is not meeting expectations, you owe it to your team members, to be honest with them and give them the opportunity to improve. Letting sub-standard work go by without notice does no one any good.

But, a word of caution, always take care to deliver that feedback with respect. Respect for your team members who, in most cases, are doing their best to deliver. And respect for those individuals who AREN’T giving 100 percent. You may not respect the effort they’ve put in, but every action you take needs to be grounded in a fundamental respect for them as human beings. Besides, the way you treat them is part of your brand.

That means being sure to ground your comments in positive terms, even when addressing shortcomings. Try not to focus on the poor quality of the work turned in, but instead, communicate what needs to happen differently next time. Badgering, belittling, or bullying has no place in the workplace; a leadership approach grounded in respect will successfully prevent them.    

In short: regardless of the scenario, one of the most important things for leaders to avoid is making the members of your team feel like they’ve failed….and that’s why….

“E” is for Empathy.  

The most respected leaders in our world are those with a clear and demonstrated sense of empathy. The ability to understand others in our professional lives is the fundamental building block of a successful organization.

Regardless of the type of work we do, the human factor is simply the dominant force in our work environment. And no matter how detailed and magnificent your written organizational plan is, it still falls to human beings to carry it out. Frequently, they succeed. Occasionally, they don’t.  

Perhaps one day, the manager’s job will simply be to oil the robots—but we’re not at that point yet.

So this month, when you’re on your way to the bakery or candy store to pick up an office treat for February 14, don’t forget the other ways in which “Good Leaders C.A.R.E.”—because life is MORE than just a box of chocolates.

And that’s how you…GROW BIG OR GO HOME®!