This is a guest post by my good friend Bill Treasurer, who's latest book Leaders Open Doors makes its big time release this week! Over to Bill...
If you’re a leader, there’s an important question on the minds of the people you lead. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work … and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their jobs and their loyalty to you will suffer. The question is: Do you care about me?
Do you care about me?
The answer shows up in your treatment of people. You may say that you care about people, but if you never smile, constantly move up deadlines, rarely ask for their opinions or use their input, take credit for their good work, set unrealistic goals, and don’t say “thank you” for their hard work, then you don’t really care about them. And they know it.
To be a leader means to get results. But when the drive for results monopolizes a leader’s attention, people become a lesser priority. When a leader cares more about the “ends” (results) and less about the “means” (people), the leader becomes susceptible to treating people like objects. A single-minded focus on results often leads directly to treating people poorly. The drive to achieve results becomes the leader’s excuse for toughness, saying things like, “Sure, I’m tough. We’re under relentless pressure from our competitors, and margins are tight. Being tough creates urgency and motivates people to work hard. My boss is tough on me, so why shouldn’t I be tough on the people who work for me?”
To be sure, results matter. But people achieve those results, and when you treat people poorly you’ll get poor results. Answering “yes” to the core do-you-care-about-me question means taking a deep and genuine interest in those you are leading. Caring, in this sense, is obliging. For when you care about people, you give them more of your time, attention, and active support. A wise leader treats people as more important than results, because strong people produce those results. Period.
So what does caring look like? When you care about people, you:
- take an interest in their career aspirations
- seek, value, and apply their ideas
- acknowledge people’s contributions and say “thank you” generously.
As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. Here’s why: when they know you care about them, they will care about you … and your success.
In fact, you’ll know that you are truly a leader who cares when the people you lead start seeking and valuing your input, when they take an interest in your career aspirations, and when they are actively supportive of you. And when your people care about you, they’ll help you get better results.
About Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.