Leadership within an organization is a foundational component to having a resilient environment. At least fifty percent of a person’s environment plays a role in their own resilience. Many get fooled to think that resilience is all on the person and a skill set they need to have and develop. Not so. In the workplace it has become apparent that leadership is where many organizations struggle and can create an environment which leads to employees struggling to sustain their resilience.
Normally the best place to start is an assessment. There are many leadership assessments. Below you can see 6 items that you can rate the following way Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree/ Disagree, Disagree or Strongly Disagree. When doing this you can look at it two ways, as the leader or the follower. If you are the follower, it might spark a conversation with your leader or visa versa. The main reason for doing a survey or assessment is to open a deeper conversation. You do need to prepare to be vulnerable and have open conversations that are solution focused.
1. The person I report to is trustworthy.
2. My company is open to new ideas of how to improve.
3. I have a good relationship with the person to whom I report.
4. I am comfortable with how my daily performance is evaluated.
5. I receive helpful feedback on my performance.
6. I am recognized for my achievements.
You can see in the items that leadership is about trust, openness, accountability and creating a feeling of belonging. Leadership is a foundational component of having a resilient environment and the relationship is a foundational component of leadership. Developing a relationship should be priority one when leading people. People will not care what you know until they know that you care. A study done recently of over two million employees at seven hundred companies confirmed the value of one important factor of leadership, compassion. The study found that most people rate having a caring boss higher than how much money they earn, or the fringe benefits they receive. How they related to their boss determined their productivity and how long they stayed with the company.
How do you be a compassionate leader? Foremost is to have the awareness of when someone is pain or having difficulty. Once this is done it is important to listen with empathy and be emotionally present. Here are a few other tips to consider on how to be a compassionate leader:
• Know how to read emotional cues and learn how to anticipate their effect
• Build an environment where acting compassionately in encouraged and rewarded
• Listen intently and with care
• Self-disclose when right, “I have been there before”
• Use open ended questions and do not judge
• Help the person with solutions to their situation
The most important one is to be present. Sometimes referred to as a human moment you need to be physically and emotionally present. You need to close the door, turn off the phone, make eye contact and use all your listening skills. Five minutes of this intent listening and presence could save hours if not days of issues. This takes energy. Good leaders absorb, filter, dissipate and take on their people’s frustrations so they can focus. Too many organizations are putting people in leadership roles without the skill set, a path to develop the skill set and the space to practise the skill.
Leadership can accelerate, stagnate or decelerate a company. There needs to be a solid plan in place even if you are a small business, especially if you are a large business. The skill sets associated with great leadership has been assumed for to long. It is worth the time to develop a strategic plan on how you are going to develop your leaders. Even if it has a cost associated with it, it is money well spent.
Lastly, this is a two-way street. Employees need to look inside and make sure they are truly interested in becoming a leader before they put their name forward. This is more than a bump in pay, it is a big responsibility. People are counting on you and expectations will be high. You can find yourself in a situation where your own resilience is getting drained everyday when you end up in a position that you do not enjoy or only took for the extra money. It will show through quickly and it will be good for no one.