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The Inconvenience of Great Leadership

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We’ve all heard the expression “you have to give love to get love.”

I fear this expression is losing its power as our expectation for fast delivery rises and rises.

We don’t like to wait much anymore and more often than not, we don’t have to. Convenience and the expectancy of convenience has increased exponentially in our society.

Take a look at this graphic provided by the Think Google team:

In the last two years, there has been a:

  • 500% growth in “near me” mobile searches
  • 150% growth in “near me now” searches for for mobile users
  • 900%+ growth in “___ near me today/tonight” for mobile user

You can add this one to the mix as well:

It’s clear we’re getting more impatient. This is of course primarily related to our shopping experience, but our shopping self shares the same brain as our work self.

If we’re searching “near me now” and “near me tonight” and “wait times” when we’re outside of work, it’s a good bet we’re bringing a similar expectancy and impatience into the workplace.

But what you can’t demand in a “near me now” search is “employee engagement near me now in this office” or “strong leadership near me today” or “wait times for effective leadership.”

There’s no amazon.com one click purchase for leadership influence and employee engagement…yet.

Maybe if A.I. does actually take over the robots will deduce how to connect with humans better than humans. Given that robots don’t have empathy though, I highly doubt it.

Empathy is gaining traction as a chief desirable quality in a workplace. According to a recent survey done by tech company tech company Businessolver, “60 percent of workers would be willing to take a pay reduction to work for an empathetic company.”

Whether it’s leadership, workplace culture, or employee engagement, it all comes down to relationships – interpersonal human, connections – and relationships require cultivation.

Companies who want their leaders to excel, who want their employees to put out high quality work, need to start from a mindset of “cultivation.”

If you promote a star employee to a leadership position, you might get lucky to discover that this person is a natural born leader, but chances are this person will need some training; their leadership abilities will need to be cultivated.

Same goes with employees and your workplace culture. You can’t simply buy some pizza for everyone and expect undying loyalty from your people.

Sure, pizza helps, but if there isn’t a culture that breeds engagement already in place, you can say goodbye to that loyalty once the pizza box is empty.

So how does one go about cultivating empathy, leadership, and employee engagement?

When it comes to leadership…

Related: The Behavior That Prevents Good Leadership

Hire an executive coach

Give this person a fighting chance to succeed.

An executive coach can strengthen the areas where someone might fall short in a leadership position.

The coach should be someone that understands the position the new manager is in, how to cultivate the qualities needed, and creates a comfortable environment and connection.

When it comes to employee engagement…

Get to know your people

Take everyone out for drinks or dinner any after hours excursion to find out who everyone is.

Ask questions, listen. You’re forming connections like you would anywhere in life. When people feel like they matter and they have a place in the world their life feels more meaningful.

These are small steps that go a long way to create meaning and purpose. People start to see how their role fits into the bigger picture.

Find out what other interests / passions your people have

And then utilize them. This creates more meaning for their life and feeds back into the company by creating an aligned, sticky culture.

Promote individuality so people feel like their specific existence plays a valued role in the organization/company.

Your employees might possess talents that can support the company’s goals in some way. This isn’t to say that you should exploit them for everything that they’re worth but if the moment arises for an employee’s other talents to be of use….give it a shot!

It will only create meaning and purpose for them.

When it comes to empathy…

Step out of automatic pilot and actually relate to people

When you do interact with people try not to have one foot out the door. Cultivate interest within yourself to find out who everyone is.

When you go about your days being conscious of your interactions, who is talking to you, what they’re saying, how you’re responding, this is called having a relational philosophy.

We all know the feeling of talking to someone who doesn’t care about what we’re saying. If employees feel that from their leaders, disengagement will soon follow.

Cultivating a workplace culture or an employee takes time and some patience. It doesn’t happen overnight, or in an instant.

Employee engagement and strong leadership comes down to creating bonds between human beings, which requires effort, and effort doesn’t necessarily yield “near me now” results. It will, however, yield “near me soon” results.

If organizations want to keep top talent and create a positive workplace culture that breeds innovation and profit with all parties working towards the same goal, then there has to be an allowance for mistakes and growth.

To cultivate is to develop, to help grow. In the same way a farmer cultivates his crops so must we cultivate our leaders and people, giving them the tools to prosper.

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