Two individuals, Bass and Avolio, developed four key elements of transformational leadership: Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration. The latter is defined as providing individual team members with sincere attention to their respective emotional states of mind, needs and concerns. Consider the trajectory of your career to date and the impact of leaders who have intentionally made it a priority to show interest in you, your family and your pursuits outside of the workplace. Are you able to easily recall these experiences? Ideally, you have more than a few positive memories of leaders who made a deliberate effort to get to know you on an individual level, encouraging you to succeed and replicate this core attribute.
Leaders who are highly skilled in demonstrating empathy and care are attuned to the feelings of their employees, recognizing that their individual needs differ.
Your workforce has a strong desire for psychological, as well as physical safety during both good and challenging times. This past April, McKinsey published A leader’s guide to communicating with teams, stakeholders and communities during COVID – 19 . The authors described the need for “candour over charisma” as a critical component. Being truthful and open, recognizing and listening to individual concerns and questions will help ease the minds of your employees, particularly in times of crisis.
The pandemic of 2020 has thrown a spotlight on mental health and a fundamental shift in work arrangements. With millions of people working from home out of necessity rather than desire, both leaders and teams are facing additional pressures, both personal and professional. As people find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances, juggling family responsibilities with work priorities, the need for increased compassion and consideration on the part of employers is essential.
It is incumbent on leaders to heighten their respective sensitivities in these circumstances. Every individual has his or her own unique set of personal challenges to manage, in addition to getting the job done. While the situation remains fluid and timetables for return to work remain unclear for many types of businesses, leaders must be cognizant of safety protocols as well as the personal preferences of their workforce. Employers and employees alike are navigating an unprecedented period in history. The acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) is apropos when describing current times. With so many factors outside of a leader’s control, one constant remains during a time of crisis: Individuals look to their leadership for reassurance, steadiness, compassion and understanding. No matter the size of your enterprise, you can choose to adopt a considerate, thoughtful approach as a key priority.
Leaders often lament the fact that they find themselves being pulled in a myriad of directions. With so many demands on a leader’s time, deciphering the “urgent” from the “important” can be problematic. At the same time, leaders who are personally in touch and in tune with their team members have a greater opportunity to strengthen the relationship and harness their respective intrinsic motivation levels. Make it a priority to study the practices of leaders whose displays of humanness and humility have yielded loyalty and commitment amongst employees.
Your team needs to know that you have an interest and desire to learn what matters to them as individuals. If your leadership style is transactional, people may perceive that your attempts to connect are mechanical, i.e. that you are going through the motions in order to complete a “task.” By taking this approach, your employees will feel disconnected and disengaged as opposed to being heard, validated and understood.
As a leader, it is worthwhile remembering that giving individualized attention to your team members goes a long way toward building enduring relationships, both internal and external. In the words of J. Willard (Bill) Marriott, executive chairman and chairman of the board of Marriott International: “See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk around, make yourself visible and accessible.” Mr. Marriott’s wise words remain timeless and highly relevant for all levels of leadership. The simple act of putting your people first starts with you.
This article is a partial transcript of a video on YouTube. This video was recorded prior to COVID-19.
Michelle Ray (Twitter) is one of the best international leadership keynote speakers in Vancouver. She helps you discover your potential through presentations, coaching and consulting. With over 20 years of experience Michelle has worked with hundreds of companies around the world. She is taking bookings for speaking engagements and can be contacted at MichelleRay.com