Why lead if you do not care about your team?
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Why lead if you do not care about your team?

Though many leaders instinctively understand that the geese lay the golden eggs, for some inexplicable reason, some leaders are only interested in the golden eggs and not the geese. 

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Today, you may remember leaders who took you under their wings, trusted you, gave you opportunities to do your best work, and encouraged you to make the progress you needed to make when you did not even believe in yourselves. 

Those are the leaders who cared for us. 

Unfortunately, we still have many leaders who are unwilling to care for their teams. A leader shared her experience as a dedicated, productive, and efficient team member. 

She consistently arrived at work early and worked diligently until the end of the day. Surprisingly, the boss never bothered to inquire or comment about her punctuality. 

The leader just enjoyed the golden eggs 

One morning, she was on her way early to drop her son off with her mom before making her way to the office, as she had always done. 

An accident showed that the team leader did not care:

Unfortunately, she had an accident. Having the baby at the back of the car and attempting to process all that had happened, she forgot to call and inform the team leader about the incident. 

A little after 8 am, she got a call from the team leader. 

The voice on the other side was very stern and unhappy. It was the voice of her team leader who asked, "Where are you? It’s past 8 am. Why are you not in the office?" 

She apologized for not calling earlier to excuse her lateness and mentioned that she had an accident. 

At the office, the team leader said nothing about the incident. There was a job to do, and he expected her to show up and get the job done. She is now in the office to do her work, exactly what the boss wanted.

Some leaders believe they are paid to accomplish tasks, not to babysit others.

Leaders should not be paid to babysit adults at work; rather, they should be paid to look after those under their supervision. 

The core of leadership is showing concern for the welfare of the team or community we are involved in.

How can leaders not care about the team members in their charge? Can a leader lead a group of people without being willing to care for them? Possibly. However, this leader will lose all the geese that lay the golden eggs. 

The team leader I described above lost that valuable team member shortly after the incident. 

W. C. H Prentice, in a seminal article for Harvard Business Review in 1961, puts it succinctly, "A great leader’s unique achievement is a human and social one, and it stems from his understanding of the relationship between individual needs and the group goal that must be carried out." 

No leader can lead effectively and achieve meaningful results today while ignoring to care for the needs of individuals in the team. I highlight three main ways leaders care for their team members: 

Treat team members with respect:                                  

The primary way that leaders demonstrate that they care is by treating their teams with respect. Showing respect means team members should be aware of changes that affect them in advance. It is also respectful to consult team members if necessary. 

For instance, if a situation requires team members to work more hours than usual, it is essential to inform the team about the change.

Provide team member with opportunities to learn and develop their skills and abilities: 

The foremost task of every leader is to grow more leaders. 

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Supporting those you work with to build their capacity will advance your work meaningfully as they become more skilful at their work. No matter your level, others are looking to learn from your experience and insights. 

There are always opportunities to learn and grow. According to Prentice, “Effective leaders take a personal interest in the long-term development of their employees." 

Any leader not interested in developing other team members must not be allowed to take care of a team. 

Should the leader not be able to consistently engage in developing team members, the leader must be seen to be making the effort in other ways.

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Acknowledge team members are human beings with personal life issues which affect work:

For example, the accident described above impacted the team member and her child. 

The team leader cannot ignore this incident because work must go on. It was clear to her that she was not being cared for by those who were supposed to be in charge. 

Leaders can expect team members to put aside their humanity at home and become robots when we expect humans to show up at work.

How to start showing care:

First, leaders must accept that caring for the team does not mean the leader is not focusing on results. Caring for the team is the path to higher productivity. 

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Second, could you start meetings by finding out how your team members are doing in their personal lives? Spending the first 5 minutes of the meeting to celebrate personal progress releases positive energy for a great meeting. 

Third, Leaders must also design work schedules with the team in mind. Work and resource allocation must reflect the development aspirations of team members. 

Effective leadership does not run on the philosophy, “Each one for himself and God for us all”. If you care about results more than the people you work with, then you are not leading. 

Your team can see through your actions when you do not express care. 

These actions impact team results negatively. If you have good intentions and want to see results, you must start caring for your team. 

You cannot achieve sustainable results without meaningful relationships. Meaningful relationships are a result of active care for those we engage with.

Be of good cheer!

The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program (https://ceoacceleratorprogram.org) and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory (www.thelearningtemple.com). 

The mission of The Leadership Project is to harvest highly effective leadership practices and share them in a manner that other leaders can easily incorporate into their leadership practice. 

If you have an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to [email protected]. Until you read from us again, keep leading.... from leader to leader, one practice at a time.

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