I was in a board meeting recently with the Board Of Advisors for one of my long-standing clients. One of my fellow Board Members was talking about a consultant who advised her client of how important it was for him to appear to care about his employees and clients.
Those hollow words rang out in the room and echoed off of the walls and created a dissonance that rang loudly in my head for several moments. We discussed a lot of ideas in that meeting about how to drive positive transformative change to the culture of a business, and specifically the business of the founder who had assembled us as a board. Read on to find the advice that we came up with.
Lead By Example
Your people are not simple. They’re not stupid. They’re not unsophisticated enough to be fooled by appearances. Understand that you either lead by example or you don’t lead, period. Your values need to be communicated and understood by everyone on the team. You need to take only actions that are consistent with your values or don’t take them at all. You need to speak statements that are congruent with what you and the team believe in, or you don’t speak at all. Your actions need to match. What you do has to be in complete alliance with what you say, and what you say has to be in complete harmony with what say you stand for.
When it comes down to it, your people are going to pay attention to what you do, ten times more than what you say you’re going to do. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Lead. Lead by doing what you said you would do. Make the tough decisions. Hold yourself accountable, just like you hold your team accountable. When there is great congruence in the heavens around your life and your work, people will recognize that you are a worthy leader, someone they can trust, and they will willingly and enthusiastically follow you. If you don’t lead by example, or if you don’t act in ways that match what you say your values are, people will see through you like you’re a piece of cellophane…
Don’t Try To Show That You Care, Actually, Care
We mean no disrespect to the consultant above who encouraged our founder to try to show his employees that he cared about them. She almost got it right. She was about a millimeter away from a great truth, but her advice fell one qualifier short. If you want your people to believe in you, and to willingly follow your leadership, you actually have to lead, you don’t just play a leadership role. We told our client that he needed to care about his employees and care about their growth.
We encouraged him to invest in them, develop their skills, and equip them for greater success so that each day they might become one or two steps closer to their dreams as they helped him to advance one or two steps closer to his. It’s not about appearances. You cannot demonstrate that you care about your employees and their success without actually caring about them and making them your top priority. Your colleagues will see through a charade. If you’re posing or playing a role, they will see through it, and smell the rat.
So don’t focus on appearing to be anything. Instead, go for the real McCoy, and BE the thing. In this case, don’t pretend to care about your team, actually show them through your actions 365 days per year that you care about them enough to invest in them, coach them, train them, equip them, and support them through whatever challenges they may need to overcome. Care. Don’t try to care, or pretend to show you care. Just care.
The founder of the company took our advice back with him to his place of business and he took our advice to heart. He renewed his efforts to lead by example and raised the bar for himself. In so doing, he raised the bar for virtually everyone in the business. He didn’t make false efforts to show that he cared about his team, he actually began to care first, and he changed the way he spoke and changed his actions.
He handed out a few unexpected bonus checks and brought a few smiles to the faces of his employees who instantly understood that he was acknowledging all of their good work and hard work over the years. They told him how good it felt to be recognized for their positive contributions. They told him how much they enjoyed working with each other and with the founder. They thanked him for caring and for making it authentic and a part of their day-to-day culture.
You can do this! There’s no need to pretend to care for your team when you can just go ahead and actually care for them. Go first, go now. Invest in your team today. Do something. Show something. Take actions that prove how much you care and how much you appreciate their contributions. Use words that demonstrate how much you care and how willing you are to invest in them and help them to achieve their dreams.
Michael is a Master Coach who has been developing Executives and Emerging Leaders for many years. Michael’s Coaching and Consulting firm have five coaches who work with clients all over the world, assisting them in developing their leadership acumen and their Executive Presence. Michael’s team of coaches is located in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, and Minnesota, and the firm works with Business Founders, C-Suite Executives, and Emerging Leaders. Michael and his coaches work with fast-growth companies, often in the technology industry, and his team helps them to narrow the gap between their current state, and where they would love to be in a tremendous future state.
If you’d like more information about Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting visit the website at www.michaelbeachcoach.com, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael hosts a podcast about Leadership and how to develop Emerging Leaders, called “What Are YOU Doing?” and you can find it wherever you listen to podcasts or on Michael’s website.