08 Jun How to practice feminine energy in your leadership – Care
They say when you go on a date with someone, be mindful of how they treat the wait staff. If they are nice to you, but rude to the server, they probably don’t show a lot of care to others, and it could be worth re-thinking your date!
In business, I think the parallel is how you treat suppliers, both internal and external to your team. This is a great indicator of how much genuine care there is in an organisation.
Your People Circle
In and around your business, there are many groups of people working alongside you, contributing to your organisation’s success. Let’s consider five of them: customers, shareholders (or owners or the board depending on the model), the leadership group, employees and suppliers.
Many organisations have some sort of statement like, ‘we respect our people’ or ‘our people are our greatest asset’ or similar wording. I often wonder – does this extend to all people in your business circle? For example, take suppliers – do you apply the same values when it comes to your suppliers – the people you chose to work with and who chose to work with you, in your business?
How do we show Care?
For most businesses, it’s a given that care is a priority when it comes to customers, after all that’s where the money comes from! Whether or not, the business practices care, is another story. Do you show care because you genuinely care for your customers, or to ensure they will continue working with you? The intent for meeting customers’ needs and being concerned about the outcome is there, but sometimes we need to consider how we genuinely show care.
Shareholders or the Board are another group of people who are typically ‘cared for’. This is where investment is managed so the Board is deeply interested in how the business mitigates its risk. And what the Board is interested in the business leaders care about! So care for the Board tends to comes from a place of political management rather than sincere interest.
The Leadership group tend to get caught in the middle of the care circle. It’s taking a while for Boards to realise that care for people goes a long way towards mitigating risk. And that a focus on creating great cultures matters. The leadership group get stuck between balancing out when to put profit before people and vice versa (guess which one usually wins!). Here’s the thing: people, whether they be employees or suppliers, they make the profits in the business, yet as leaders and organisations, we are choosing not to look after them, and this could have a potentially devastating impact on morale, and ultimately the bottom line.
Equally, the Leadership group can set the tone of the organisation. Their behaviour matters. If they genuinely show care through their behaviours, it’s more likely that the rest of the organisation follows suit.
Now most businesses claim to value their people which we would assume means they show care but given that there’s at best 50% employee engagement in the world it appears we don’t do that consistently.
Two good indicators of care in an organisation are ‘thank yous’ and one on ones. Many leaders ask me if they should thank people for doing their job, or whether they should save the thanks until the employee does something special. My response is always:
‘Why, are you going to run out? Were you given twenty thank yous at birth and now have to ration them? Yes, thank people, show your appreciation and do it often and sincerely!’
And the second way is one on ones. How much quality time do you take with your team individually? Are the one on ones the first thing to be bumped from a busy diary because it’s easier to reschedule when there’s only two people at the appointment and no external individuals present? (We’ve all been there!). Imagine how it feels from your employee’s point of view – either if you don’t plan to spend any time with them, or if you’re constantly shifting and changing your priorities, and they are not one of them. Most leaders only schedule time with their team when there is a company update or if they have done something wrong, not to genuinely show care to them.
What about the Wait Staff?
Now let’s consider suppliers. Imagine if we’ve struggled to show care to customers, shareholders, leaders and employees – how do you think we go with those crucial individuals we rely on to keep our company running? Do you show genuine care to them? I.e. do you get back to them when you say you’re going to or expect them to run around chasing you? Do you pay them when agreed? Do you have onerous payment terms expecting your suppliers to bank you? Is your strategy to squeeze every dollar out of them in order that you get a good deal, with little regard to their cash flow or staff and operational commitments?
All of these suggest a mindset of ‘winning’ against suppliers with very little regard on the outcome for them. Suppliers are partners to the success of your business (particularly in small business where they might be your only team members!)
And I wonder how often this mindset creeps into winning against employees or customers too?
So how a business treats its suppliers is a very good indication as to how it really shows care for people in its circle. Have a think in your business or leadership role – who are in your circle of success and how do you show care to them?
This blog is the second in the series where we explore the 5Cs of feminine energy in leadership – Collaboration, Care, Creativity, Change, Collective. In my complimentary eBook I describe each one and how to practice (available through sign up at the bottom of the page here, along with a video of me introducing feminine energy in leadership). You can also read about Collaboration here.