Originally published on April 23, 2019, reprinted with permission
We're all taught that great leaders need to have emotional intelligence, that they need to have empathy, connect with their teams and show them that they care.
In fact, up to a week ago I would have said that taking care of your team, and showing them that you care is the best way to build trust, loyalty and engagement.
But that was before I saw a great talk by Sameer Dua, who went one level deeper and talked about taking care of what your teams care about.
I found this to be a profound statement, and it really got me thinking about the power of such an approach. Now, to be honest, this was something that I had done in the past, but it was within the context of taking care of people, trying to look after for them, so it had almost happened by accident, it wasn't something that I had set out specifically to do.
By looking to do this intentionally, it would mean you would have to really get to know your teams, go deeper, understand what they are looking for from life, what's important to them, and then try to satisfy that need.
Of course, we can all have a good guess at what people want less work, more pay, more interesting challenges, but these are probably not their most important desires.
I remember working with one manager, and his goal every day was to leave at 5pm on the dot.
One day I did ask him why it was so important to for him to leave bang on 5pm. He said it was because if he left between 5:30 and 7pm the journey home took twice as long and meant he missed putting his 2-year old daughter to bed and reading her a bedtime story, which was his most favourite thing in the entire world. That was what was important to him, that was what he cared about the most.
Once he had done that then he would work at home writing reports, following up on things until late in the evening.
Now imagine, as his boss, what I could do to make sure that he could do that and the impact that would have on our relationship, the level of trust, engagement, and loyalty that would create. It would be easy for me to make sure that I didn't book meetings with him for that timeslot or set deadlines that meant he would be stuck in traffic. Or that I could let him know that sending me the report in the pm was ok. I could even drop by his office at 4:55 and say hey shouldn't you be getting ready to leave.
When we offer incentives, if we know our teams well and what they care about, then we can better target the incentives and have a bigger impact. It could be that instead of a bonus we let them have some time off in lieu, that we offer theatre tickets, a training course, whatever it is that they care about.
By helping to meet the cares of our teams it will help create a much better bond than just by taking care of them.
This is Caring 2.0
I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Is this something that you already do, or that a leader has done for you.