Oct 31 2019| Leadership
by Kaaren Welsby Associate
At what stage in our career do we learn that kindness really matters and the way in which we act and how we treat others will mark us out as either a good boss or a bad one? Do we learn this lesson consciously or subconsciously from how we were treated as a younger employee?
We can choose to be a leader who is genuinely interested in others - or one who is already walking away when they ask, 'How are you?'
Being fully present at work - and in all situations - is important; we can aspire to slow down in order to notice our surroundings, or how others may be feeling, as well as our own mood.
It is vital to take time to acknowledge others and what they bring personally as well as professionally. Being kind to yourself is just as important. It is sometimes too easy to master spinning plates, multi-tasking, snatching time, even cutting corners.
But there is only so long that you can get away with this behaviour because people will feel it and see it in the type of energy that you bring to a situation or to an interaction. And ultimately negative energy and martyring behaviour will manifest in stress and burnout - in yourself and in others.
People can tell instinctively if the greeting they are given is just a cursory tick in the box. There is a universal inner radar to detect whether something is simply said, rather than genuinely meant, or felt.
We can also tell quite quickly whether we matter to others, whether what we say is noticed and listened to. Whether we are merely tolerated or whether we really constitute a valued partner.
We are habitually told that ‘the world is full of the graves of those who thought they were indispensable’. But of course, it is a very human trait to want to feel as if we have value. We typically want to feel if someone, or something in the form of a business or an organisation of some kind, values us.
It is often said that 'employees don't leave businesses, they leave bosses'. We spend a significant part of our lives at work, so we deserve to be happy when we are there.
If the culture, values and behaviours of a business are set by the senior management team, then this means that it is incumbent on bosses in general to present themselves as great role models. Respect for others, basic courtesy and a sense of fair treatment should be standard for all.
As employees we should - and need to - feel as if we matter to our chain of command, our colleagues and our teams. This shouldn't necessarily manifest itself in bonuses or work socials, but should translate into a collective awareness that we are noticed personally and that the work we do professionally is meaningful.
This means that we should be given regular appraisals, offered fair chances to attend courses or gain promotions, and afforded equal opportunities in general, regardless of gender or any other means of discrimination.
This 'noticing' can be something as simple as having someone use our name, ask us how we are, remember a birthday, or praise work done well. At heart, we know the old adage that 'kindness counts and it costs nothing - but means everything'. Taking time to put this into practice will have a direct and lasting impact on retention, absence and sickness - and recruitment.
So, how can we be kind - and make the people around us feel valued?
Listen to them; make eye contact and listen attentively and exclusively, without interrupting or suggesting. The greatest gift that anyone can give another person is their time and attention. We are seldom listened to, or really heard. Being listened to can be transformative.
Say thank you; acknowledge and praise individual contributions. Tell the person what was great about what they did or said. Make them feel great too, but in a way that they feel comfortable with - not everyone likes to be praised in public.
Take the time to find out what really matters to others; notice what animates and excites others' enthusiasm and passion. Ask what they love to do and why; ask what their hopes for the present and the future are. Everyone has a purpose and something that guides them to do what they do. The trick is to find it and utilise it. Always.
The human data that we use at Leaders Consultancy provides an amazing shortcut to this kind of awareness - of both self and others.
With human data, we are very quickly able to see where teams and individuals are really great - as well as where there may be blindspots.
When we grow in self-awareness it allows us to see and acknowledge the personal traits that make us all so unique and amazing.
It will also allow us to learn the best ways in which to approach and engage with others. We all possess the ability to be the best boss and the best colleague - ever! Knowing where our own value lies and how we like to operate is just one of the necessary steps to being able to treat others better and to value them equally.
Call us to see how we can assist you in finding the value of your team - as well as where your own value lies.