Why leaders should be leading their people right now

 

Good leaders think about their people first.

This isn’t primarily a global financial or economic crisis, it’s a personal one – and leaders need to recognise and, most importantly, respect that.

Good leaders will naturally think of their people first and protect their biggest asset.

It got me thinking about a time when I had a colleague who collapsed while travelling abroad. His wife was eight months pregnant and couldn’t fly, so the CEO stayed in the hospital overnight to make sure he was ok. The CEO. This was not my colleague’s boss or even his boss’s boss. It was the CEO who chose to sit outside his room for hours… why? Because he genuinely cared. There were undoubtedly a ton of other things he could have been doing, but he consciously prioritised the situation.

And here I am now telling the story, as my colleague has told many, many other new and existing employees over his years with the business. That’s how you create loyalty. That’s how you know your team will support you through the toughest times. When your actions as a leader show you are genuinely there for people.

And this is why the last thing any good leader should be worrying about right now is the profitability of their business. Business is, and always has been, about people – whether a few people or thousands, every business has suppliers and partners and, of course, clients who are more worried about their personal situation than anything else right now. If your business is going to have a rocky time, tell your team; you’ll be amazed at how they might want to support you and, in fact, by the great ideas they have about how to do so. Work with them and respect the personal concerns they will all have.

It’s a much-used adage and a cliché, but people work for people they like and respect – and, in times of turmoil, they expect those people to be honest, communicative and benevolent. These continue to be challenging times and, as a leader, you are not expected to have all the answers, but you should have the humility to listen and the emotional intelligence to put your people first. Good leaders who have been doing this for years will reap the benefits both during and after the crisis. For those that haven’t, why don’t you try it and see what happens? If not, don’t be surprised if your team start looking elsewhere for companies with inclusive cultures, mutual respect and real values when this pandemic is finally over.

Steve Charlton

An original version of this article appeared on the Real Leadership Consultancy LinkedIn page.

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