It’s a Friday night in October. You are on your way to the ball park for a high school football game and you remember that the concession stand only takes cash. You look at your wallet, open it, and you can hear the echo of your own voice in the bottomless, empty pit. No cash. You look at the clock and realize that its 6:30 pm and the bank has been closed for over an hour now. Sheer panic grips your soul as you see the hotdog and Diet Coke you had been dreaming about slowly slip through your fingers. Sweat beads form on your head and every part of you wants to fall to the floor and scream like a child throwing a temper tantrum in Target after being told they couldn’t have a toy.
What on earth are you going to do?
All of a sudden, you realize that its 2020 and there is practically an ATM on every corner and you don’t need a bank. When the bank closes is irrelevant because you can get cash whenever you want. A sense of calm rushes over you and you go back to focusing on that delicious hotdog and Diet Coke. Disaster averted.
Convenience and Comfort:
Today’s world is all about convenience. Veronica Hanks (2019) said that new technology and innovations are all about making the more world easier to navigate, more convenient and comfortable. From ordering your Starbucks online you can bypass long lines. Online ordering in grocery stores allows for faster check out and pick up. GPS allows you to get directions on your phone with no longer have to get on MapQuest and printing off 20 sheets of directions (Hanks, 2019). Manufacturing plants have begun utilizing robotics to perform specific functions to speed up production and eliminate downtime.
Throughout our days the search for ways to become more efficient and effective continues. We know that time is a commodity that we will not get back and we focus on how we can eliminate menial task in order to be more productive. We find ways to become more comfortable and navigate the daily inconveniences that frustrate us.
In a majority of areas, convenience and comfort are imperative. They are warranted and wanted. There is however one area that will never be convenient and comfortable.
Inconvenient and Uncomfortable Loving Leadership:
As the baby boomers exit the workforce, younger generations of professionals are climbing the corporate ladder, the focus on leadership has never been greater (Miner, 2019). More so, the understanding and need for more relational based leadership that comes from the heart is growing. There is an understanding that to keep talent, it takes more than ping pong tables in the break room. It takes creating a culture built on trust, a common goal and a feeling of purpose. People want to feel valued and cared for (Chapman, 2015). They want to know that they matter, not just for their work, but for who they are as a person. Positional leadership, the kind that uses power, will no longer be as effective as loyalties fade quickly (Bariso, 2016).
Studies have shown that increases in productivity and bottom-line profit growth come as a direct reflection of loving leadership that creates a culture of positivity and focuses on caring for others (Seppälä & Cameron, 2015). These types of leaders understand, that to be successful, you have to be focused on serving and developing the whole person, not just focusing on the activities you wish to see in the role (Chapman, 2015). It’s helping cultivate self-belief in the individual that allows them to feel a sense of ownership and togetherness. It builds trust within the group and an understanding that the Who, is more important than the What.
The development of loving leadership is not convenient or comfortable, which is why many struggle with its development and implementation. There are so many responsibilities, meetings, emails, conferences and reports that need to be developed, read, attended that building relationships with those on our teams takes a back seat (YEC, 2018). It’s also been taught, for many years that emotions, caring and connection make a leader weak and takes away power and authority (Allen, 2019). This type of stigma and views on leadership have to change in order for us to create more successful organizations, companies, teams, communities and families.
The truth however, is that this heart centered, loving leadership must become a priority. While convenience and comfort rule the world, they don’t rule leadership that is built on love. Leadership that is built on love takes time. You cannot short change the time and consistency it takes to create and cultivate relationships and trust (Grossman, 2019). Learning what makes people tick, their dreams, their goals and their fears does not happen over night. It comes from being intentional about the time you spend connecting with them and allowing yourself to be authentic, transparent and vulnerable. This takes stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing others to truly know you.
The goal then, is to embrace the inconvenience and un-comfort of leadership and look for ways to develop it. Doing so will allow you to continue to grow, produce at a higher lever and increase employee engagement and retention. Below are some ways you can develop a more inconvenient and uncomfortable leadership style that will take your team to a higher level.
How to become a more effective Loving Leader:
One on One – Often times, one on ones are seen as time to give progress reports, correct undesired actions and deliver new tasks and goals. While these might be a part of the agenda, one on ones are great ways to develop a loving, trusting relationship. Using this time to get to know your team, on a personal level is key. Start the meeting by asking about the person, not the position or role. Learn about their families and life outside of the office. Learn about their dreams and personal goals. Look for ways you can help them chase their dreams and be a resource for them to develop what’s needed to accomplish them. If they are a mother or father, look for and ask for ways you can help them be the best they can in that role. Doing these types of activities helps others see that they are valued and that you truly care about their personal development. When you do this, their loyalty to you, the company and the mission will increase.
Allow Them to Lead – Leaders often fall into the trap of wanting to do everything themselves. They want it done quickly, and correctly the first time. The challenge with that mentality, is that a sense of ownership is not created within the team. Allow one of your team members to lead a portion of the next meeting or to help create and implement a new process. If you have hired someone new, assign a mentor to them who will help them navigate their new role and responsibilities. Have a new goal? Allow your someone on your team, or team members to discuss the goal, evaluate it and then determine the best action steps needed to accomplish it. Allow them to lead the charge with it. When needed, walk along side of them and coach them through roadblocks and challenges that might arise.
Small Things Matter – While it’s important to focus on the big picture, it’s truly the small things that matter. As a leader, you have an opportunity to raise the visibility and effectiveness of your team while focusing on the little things that make the most impact. A positive word of affirmation, whether publicly or privately goes a long way. People love being praised, especially when it’s about going above and beyond for someone else. Write a random hand written note of appreciation. Let them know how much working with them means to you. Do they have a family at home? Provide a gift card to the spouses, or kids favorite restaurant and help them enjoy a night on the town. If your traveling in from out of town, take the whole family to dinner, kids and all! Let them know you value their family and their time.
Empathy Above All Else – A leader who leads with love is not only focused on being there for the good, but is also there to lift up during the bad. When something goes wrong, professionally or personally, your ability to listen, understand and lift others up is key. Often times, people don’t need it to be fixed, they just need it to be heard and understood. They need to know they can lean on you and that you will support them when times of trouble arise. It’s not about having all the answers, but about walking along side of them and being the shoulders to which they can stand on. When it’s understood, that when challenges arise, they won’t be left behind, they will be willing to carry the flag and lift you up when you need it most.
Constant Development and Adaptation – In order to continue to be a successful, loving leader, you have to be willing to continuously develop and adapt. Leadership and people constantly change with time. If you are not looking for ways to continue to grow and adapt to this ever-changing world, you will be left behind. To be the best at your craft, you have to to study your craft. If you are not studying new leadership trends and ideas, you will stop leading. Always remember that no two people are the same and that what works for one, might not work for the other. Be flexible and able to adapt in your leadership style to make sure you are connecting with your team in the most effective way possible.
The inconvenience and uncomfortable nature of leadership is a beautiful thing. It allows us the ability to connect with, care for and love those we lead. It creates a sense of trust and togetherness that ultimately propels the team and company to the next level. This type of leadership trickles down in to many different areas and has an effect on the individual that last a life time. It might not be convenient or comfortable, but its highly effective and most importantly, impactful.
Allen, T. (2019, October 19). 9 Phrases that Immediately Expose Weak Leaders for Who They Are. Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/terinaallen/2019/10/19/9-phrases-that-immediately-expose-weak-leaders-for-who-they-are/?sh=5582ce674f11
Bariso, J. (2016, May 13). The Single Most Important Principle of Good Leadership, Summed Up in 1 Sentence. Inc.com. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/sophie-downes/remote-work-home-ergonomics-stress-back-pain-health.html
Chapman, B. (2015). Everybody Matter. New York: Penguin Random ouse.
Grossman, D. (2019). Trust in the Workplace: 6 Steps to Building Trust with Employees. Retrieved from https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/bid/59619/leaders-follow-these-6-steps-to-build-trust-with-employees-improve-how-you-re-perceived
Hanks, V. (2019). ‘7’ Ways Technology Has Made Our Life Easier. Retrieved from https://www.tmcnet.com/topics/articles/2019/06/21/442488-7-ways-technology-has-made-our-life-easier.htm
Miner, N. (2019, October 15). As Baby Boomers Near Retirement, Companies Risk A Leadership Shortage. Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/10/15/as-baby-boomers-near-retirement-companies-risk-a-leadership-shortage/?sh=5241940851f9
Seppälä, E., & Cameron, K. (2015, December 1). Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive
Young Entrepreneur Council. (2018, August 20). . 7 Ways to Make Time for Your Team as a Busy Manager. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/make-time-for-your-team-7-support-strategies-that-make-you-a-better-leader.html