June was “leadership month” for this blog and as I considered what the last post would be, I wondered, “what makes or breaks a good leader?”
So many of us write of leadership, read about leadership, study leadership – there are lessons to be learned and shared everywhere. But is there one thing…one characteristic or element of leadership that identifies a truly great leader?
I think there is!
I call it the “give a damn” factor.
For those of you who aren’t as crass as me, think of it as “caring.”
Caring is defined as,
“Feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for others”
I care about my kids. As a mom, I try to keep them safe, encourage their learning, and develop their capacity to succeed in a variety of things. I hurt when they are hurt and I’m happy when they are happy. (Moreover, I don’t want them to hurt or be hurt and I long for them to find happiness.)
I care about my other family members. As a daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt, I keep in touch and otherwise “keep tabs” on their lives. I reach out to them when they are sad or sick and celebrate and laugh with them when they have reasons to rejoice. I keep them in my thoughts and prayers and am hopeful they are content and enjoying a full life.
I care about my friends. As a long time or newly found companion, I try to be a good host, good company and a good source of food and laughter. I motivate and encourage them when they need extra support. I offer a shoulder to cry on or a decent ear to listen when they just need to talk and I am always good for long embrace when they simply need to be held. I try to offer insight and validation when there is value in doing so but I also offer the truth when needed.
I care about myself. I don’t know if I do this too much or too little but nonetheless, I try to feed my mind, my body and my soul “enough.” I hold myself to a high standard to force growth and development and I cut myself some slack when circumstances warrant I do so. I learn from my failures or mistakes and while I can’t say I adapt well or quickly, I can say I allow myself to laugh about my faults and shortcomings.
I want to be a good leader.
If I am to be succeed, I must care about my staff and do the same for them as I do for those mentioned above.
I can’t fake this!
I must sincerely “give a damn!” And if I do, I will commit to:
- Helping my team find happiness and joy in their work
- Providing resources to develop their expertise, skills and competencies
- Showing empathy and sympathy when needed
- Sincerely celebrating their successes
- Keeping tabs on their lives, their history and their future
- Being a sounding board and a trusted resource
- Being a source of comfort and “safety”
- Offering opinions and guidance
- Defining reality
- Providing fair and reasonable “rewards” for their work and efforts
- Challenging them to learn and grow
- Forgiving their mistakes
- Laughing with them…as much as needed!
These things are not difficult to do. Indeed, most of us do them with passion, energy and ease with our kids, our family and friends.
May we care enough about our staff to extend the same to them!