The first step in becoming a caring leader is to want to make a change in leadership behavior. Caring leadership is an art form where leaders consistently add different components to their behaviors to elicit more positive emotions in those they lead. Caring leaders excel in what is often referred to as the “soft skills”—meaning skills, aptitudes, and attitudes such as integrity, communication, empathy, compassion, courtesy, responsibility, professionalism, flexibility, teamwork, and work ethic. Caring leaders intentionally exercise their influence to be more emotionally intelligent in their interactions, showing much more heart in the process. This display of heart keeps team members and coworkers bonded and drives increased employee engagement and loyalty.
Consider these nine principles of caring leadership. Reflect on how to implement these principles into your leadership and look for ways to promote caring skills through team engagement and interactions.
Make people feel important.
Look for greatness in those we lead.
Provide safe spaces.
Involve team members.
Create a listening culture.
Empower team members to make decisions.
Lead the whole person.
Build team members resilience.
Remember, self-leadership must be the critical focus for a caring leader. If leaders are not able to care for themselves first, how can they appropriately care for those they lead? When leaders understand their purpose and reason for leading, they find ways to invest energy and time in caring for their mind, body, heart, and spirit. They take ownership for their continued growth and development.
Caring leaders lead from the heart. They recognize their role to positively influence as they learn from and adapt to the people around them. “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” John Wooden