Deep Caring for Team Members
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New generations with different expectations will bring new challenges to leaders, as four fundamental attributes will only increase:
- curiosity, with a desire to learn, grow, and understand
- a passion for serving others
- authenticity (building trust with all actions)
- deep caring for team members
That said, one attribute is becoming a more complex and sophisticated requirement for leadership: deeply caring about team members as they serve the organization.
Let’s help future leaders be better prepared to adjust and adapt to the increasing demand for team members to feel they are cared for, for who and where they are.
The underlying component in all these attributes continues to be humility. Humility permits leaders to get outside of their heads and care about how others are feeling. As shared previously, being a humble servant requires caring about how you make others feel and your impact on their lives. While we never lose our egos, with maturity we experience more meaningful and profound joy from helping others live thriving, valued, and meaningful lives.
We see humble people who make a mistake be forgiven, while those who want to look like they make no mistakes lose our trust. The Internet and technology have provided additional insights into who people are. Leaders who are not truly caring or lack integrity will be found out, and their effectiveness will erode.
Understanding the Desire to Be Cared About
The desire of recent graduates to be cared for and respected is at an all-time high and looks to become even greater. Exceptional leaders understand the many facets of caring, and they know they must adjust and adapt to connect with their team.
While the desire to be respected and cared for has always existed, the demand for respect emerged when workers began to form unions. After unionization was well-entrenched, the shift from me to team leadership accelerated in the 1960s when college students rejected the top-down authoritarian rule of the times, starting with protests of the Vietnam War. Before this time, widespread dissention over wars in the United States was uncommon. The Vietnam War protests were an affront to the most powerful organization in the world, the US government; the challenge to authority was remarkable. At that same time, college graduates going into the workforce began rejecting the power of large corporations that treated employees like equipment to be manipulated. Since that time, the desire among college graduates to be respected has only increased.
The Perception of Respect and Being Cared About
The challenge for each generation is reconciling its own perspective with those of the previous and succeeding generations. Older leaders earned respect through years of commitment and sacrifice, doing what they were told and keeping quiet. Younger team members are asking to be respected and trusted that they will do the work asked of them. They will work to the best of their abilities, and if they stumble, they expect there will be resources to help them be more successful next time.
Leaders of today and tomorrow are being asked to respect team members before they have earned respect the way the leader had to earn it. Without the volume of proven competency, commitment, or experience, this respect may seem unreasonable to those who had to do more, and wait longer.
So, today’s leaders are challenged to move from me to team by demonstrating caring and respect for new and inexperienced team members. And in more cases than not, we have found that team members surprise leadership with their commitment and dedication to the team effort when respected. They may have a lot to learn but having leaders who care about their growth sets them on a path to be contributors.
The word love is little used in business vernacular today, but it is being introduced more and more. Love will surface more in the future as leaders demonstrate their appreciation for team members showing up, giving their best, and caring for each other. Whether the word love is used or not, it is the feeling all team members desire as they assess leadership’s feelings toward them.