Leading Better: Authentic Kindness & Respectful Enforcement
October 25, 2017
Posted by: CPHR Manitoba
Authored by Josh Klasssen
I was part of an interview panel once that consisted of board members and the man who would potentially be this interviewee's direct supervisor. Characteristic of this supervisor, at the end of the interview he said, "whether or not you get hired here, you need to know that your experience that you've shared with us is valuable, and you will be an asset to whoever hires you in this field."
The young man lowered his head and teared up, clearly overwhelmed by the words. It wasn't tears of sadness, he had just been through a great interview. But instead it was the "wave crashing" effect of having the encouraging truth spoken to him.
We hire our employees based on a resume and an interview. Often we know little, if anything, about their personal life, upbringing, experiences, and all the other factors that have got them to this point. One thing we know anecdotally with some certainty is that life giving and affirming role models are rare. It would be great if every adult was responsible and every parent had read the manual, but we know that it's just not the case. People let us down, and when it's someone we are looking to for guidance and leadership, it's especially difficult to recover from.
Despite the many disappointments people encounter, they don't ever truly give up looking for good leaders. There always remains a desire to be led well. To have someone who cares about them as an individual. An important study by the Boston Consulting Group has revealed the need for a shift in how we lead and motivate our employees, it’s central finding: people want to be recognized and appreciated for the work they’re doing.
Trying to inspire with money and benefits is easy, but leading better is difficult.
Here's three quick tips for becoming the supervisor that people want to work for:
First, find a mentor who you can talk to regularly. I'd suggest two criteria for this person; are they a person people like working for, and do they get results. (There's a lot of nice bosses who can't get the job done, don't follow these people). Trust me, the benefits of asking for guidance will far outweigh the short term pain of admitting you don’t know everything.
Second, be kind but authentic. A faker is just gross! Employees, (especially the younger generation), can spot someone like this from across the river. If you're trying to change, it's ok to acknowledge it, but don't start handing out cake pops or bringing in floral arrangements if that's not you. Everyone has a kinder version of themselves that they can be authentic in, find yours.
Third, don't excuse bad behaviour. A lot of people think that if they're a person who cares, that they'll just be walked all over. It's not an "either, or", it's both. People who care are allowed to expect results from the people they lead. Set expectations and standards that are reasonable and allow yourself to enforce them in a way that is respectful.
It’s important not to treat your employees like children, but perhaps all of us should act a little more “parental” in how we lead. Do we care about the people we are leading? Are we willing to discipline them for their own good and that of the “family”? Are we willing to come alongside them to encourage and affirm them? Are we the type of supervisor or manager who people want to work for? These are tough questions, but if we are eventually able to answer YES to all of them, we will be leading a cohesive team and working in an environment of productivity because people will feel appreciated and cared for. Isn't that what we all want?
Josh Klassen is co-ordinator of the Critical Incident Stress Management team for the Winnipeg Fire Department, joint owner of Red Lake Coffee Co., and a Mental Health Instructor with St. John Ambulance.