To be a great leader, you need to be good for the heart. Being a great leader requires many skills and traits that fall into various categories including; intellectual knowledge, education, preparation, experience, vision and determination. Their people skills shine when they project authenticity, care to be good listeners and foster transparency in the workplace.
Another important leadership trait is to be good for the heart. The well-being of all within a company is key to the success of the leader, the organization and the employees themselves. Being good for the heart means that the vision, plans, actions and requests engender positive feelings in people, which in turn results in healthy lives.
Leaders who achieve their objectives by causing fear, stress, nervousness, anxiety or depression in others can lead to negative results in the long run. Though the short, mid and long-term goals may be achieved, the effects on company employees can degrade overall morale, motivation and health.
A good test for measuring the heart of a leader is to consider how the recipient of an invitation to a meeting by the leader is received. Does the recipient feel enthusiastic or stressed? An invitation from a leader that generates a positive response is the type of leader who is good for the heart.
Here are 5 characteristics of leaders that are good for the heart.
- They care about people
Great leaders tend to be very strategic and have big ideas. Such intellectual power is very advantageous for the company, especially when the leader also cares about the people who are going to be executing the ideas and who can also be impacted by the very ideas the leader has initiated.
Caring about people includes knowing who is in the organization, paying attention to where they are, what they do, what their names are and knowing something personal about as many people as possible in the organization.
Great leaders also converse with people in their organization and not only when and if something has gone wrong. Great leaders exhibit genuine concern for the people in their organizations and recognize the work they are doing by greeting, smiling, shaking hands and asking questions about how they and their families are doing — which is very good for the heart.
More importantly, via management meetings, they can also be kept abreast of their employees’ advancements, assuring that everyone has the tools and support to succeed. A smile and a friendly comment, whenever possible, also goes a long way.
2. They are inclusive
When employees feel they belong, have value and are part of something big, it also adds to their sense of well-being. As regards meetings, not everyone can be included in every company meeting and most employees appreciate being included when they are most needed. For those not participating in meetings, they can still feel they are part of what is happening by being informed of news relevant to their specific role in the company.
Being aware of everyone, acknowledging them and keeping them in the loop regarding the overall health of the company is a way to be inclusive and that makes employees feel invited, which is good for their sense of belonging, their happiness and their heart.
3. They are reasonable in their expectations
Some leaders move up through the organization because they accomplish company goals by utilizing an aggressive style — achieving unprecedented growth in very short periods of time. On the other hand, when resources are limited and employees are asked to work excessive hours, even weekends in order to achieve impressive results, the long term consequences can lead to low morale, low employee satisfaction, low levels of loyalty and low retention.
These conditions are not sustainable when looking to recruit top talent in a good economy. Most companies will experience healthy retention rates when the working environment is reasonable and does not interfere with employees’ health.
This can be even more true with newer generations such as Gen Xers and Millennials, for whom work-life balance plays a big role when choosing where to work.
4. They are trustworthy
Leaders who are not honest and transparent and whose actions lead to mistrust and doubt are not good for the heart. Second guessing a leader’s particular response to a situation can create nervousness and the potential to affect employees negatively.
New team members may ask themselves, “Will he cancel the meeting tomorrow after all the work we’ve done? Will she increase our already unrealistic sales goal again?” Employees feel better when they have a general idea how their leadership will respond in most instances.
This is not to say leaders should be overly predictable, flat and lack innovation. Developing and acting by an overall set of values give employees a base for how leadership will likely behave in most circumstances. An employee who knows the company’s leadership style might respond to his or her fellow team members with reassuring words like, “I’m not worried. I know he won’t surprise us with an unrealistic demand. In the ten years I’ve worked here, he has always given us a heads up on upcoming critical deadlines”.
Honesty and transparency reduce the feelings of anxiety and fear caused by the unpredictability of a leader. Leaders who are honest, authentic and somewhat predictable in most situations are good for the heart.
5. They are understanding
Although leaders strive for success, the reality is that mistakes happen. Great leaders assess situations holistically and evaluate the scope of mistakes, the impact, risk and actions that may have led to it as well as the potential solutions going forward.
Great leaders don’t focus on who to blame or eliminate, rather, they look for learning or development opportunities. Some of the most successful leaders have experienced failure multiple times. Strong leaders mean well and assume positive intent.
They work under the assumption that the organization has capable talent with good intentions and when something doesn’t go well, it’s not the end of the world. Good leaders are able to identify what didn’t go well, why, and what mechanisms or rules can be put in place to prevent future mishaps.
Most importantly, leaders connect with the teams involved and whenever possible offer the necessary understanding, support and future guidance — assuming the mistake was unintended and didn’t produce potential liabilities for the company. Offering teams who have made an honest mistake a second chance is good for the heart.
Caring for the people who work in your organizations and who help you achieve your goals is the right thing to do. Caring for their well-being and emotional health is key to growing an organization capable of achieving amazing results.
Great leaders play a big role in making sure their people are motivated, happy, healthy and that they show up to work every day, not because they have to, but because they want to.
A good leader who consistently reaches out to employees and expresses care, inclusivity, reasonableness, trustworthiness and understanding will keep employees engaged, and that is good for everyone’s heart.
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