Caring leaders are unselfish and support employee efforts to get ahead. As President of RX Medical, our partnership with surgeons across the country to provide technical and innovative medical solutions is imperative to our success. Embracing the art of leading our talented teams vs. managing is a lesson our executive team learned long ago. The benefits of collaboration in the workplace to guard against mishaps and advance corporate goals is one of our guiding principles. Do you believe in a genuine desire to build “caring leadership” skills to help employees succeed or are you guilty of merely managing others?

The Thanksgiving holiday often serves as a reminder to pause and reflect on what you’re most thankful for. One of the things I’m grateful for is our workplace culture which includes employee well-being and the implementation of various development training programs. As a leader, how often are you investing time (and actions) to consider employee well-being and deeply appreciating team contributions? Most believe they are caring leaders, yet often fail to display consistent concern for the actual well-being of team members says Heather R. Younger, author of The Art of Caring Leadership. Younger believes behaving as a caring leader requires deliberate thought and action.

Some managers only pay attention to completing projects and advancing their personal career goals but true leaders understand that helping employees stay emotionally healthy can enthusiastically fuel continued success overall within the organization. We believe our employees are our #1 asset within all the companies in the RX Medical family. Our people helps us pursue our organization’s goals, work to increase corporate profit and ensure our clients remain satisfied. We believe employees show greater dedication (and less workplace stress) when they truly feel that our leadership team supports them holistically. 

With the foundation of caring leadership, employees often discover new ways of overcoming challenging situations to learn and grow. Smart leaders focus on an organization’s larger mission (to prevent small setbacks from derailing team confidence and progress). If you’re interested in learning more about transforming from a manager to a leadership mindset, consider exploring Younger’s nine behavioral priorities for building the skills of a caring leader.  

Build Caring Leadership Skills: 9 Ways   

1. Lead Yourself First

Leaders who can’t direct themselves can’t assist or guide other people. Caring leaders understand their own motives and adapt, as needed, to collaborate with others. Stay positive and exercise emotional self-restraint. To be your authentic self, you need to know your strengths, identify your personal shortcomings and work toward transforming areas of opportunity. Expect to make mistakes in the process of becoming a caring leader. Learn from the moments when you feel you fall short. 

2. Help Others Feel Significant

Many employees don’t believe their leaders see them as individuals. To counter this, caring leaders set aside time for face-to-face meetings with their teams. They listen to their employees to learn what resources or knowledge they need to do their best work. When leaders act with openness and responsiveness, they show how they value their employees. People develop profound loyalty toward caring leaders who acknowledge their efforts and give them the freedom to act.

3. Notice and Encourage Outstanding Capabilities

Caring leaders seek employees with outstanding abilities, then utilize those capabilities to further develop them. They consult with their employees and ask what they need to help support their success. This approach contrasts with aloof managers who want only results (but don’t care about their people or offer them adequate support in the process). Leaders who want to discover extraordinary talent among their team members encourage them to grow and expand outside comfort zones. Caring leaders create opportunities for employees to have the resources they need to move ahead.

4. Share Challenges

Managers sometimes feel they must tackle big problems alone yet some studies show collaboration is the best way to achieve objectives. When caring leaders share their challenges, they reveal humanity. By opening up, leaders deepen their emotional bond with employees and inspire them to be helpful. True breakthroughs occur when people with different skills work together as a team.

5. Embrace Holistic Views

To gain your employees’ confidence, meet them where they are in their lives. To trust you, they must know you understand their challenges and will help address their needs. People want others to acknowledge them and have faith in them. Leaders must spend time with their team members to listen and learn more about concerns.

6. Listen to Employee Feedback

Caring leaders know that they must go beyond merely hearing what their subordinates have to say. They must listen and act. Employees feel appreciated when leaders take action based on their feedback. A significant element of listening involves getting an accurate measure of another person. Leaders must do this analysis dispassionately and with the purpose of being of service to others.

7. Create Safe Spaces

Employees often fear speaking candidly because of the possibility of backlash or punishment. Caring leaders create opportunities for people to express themselves openly, without fear. If employees have faith in their leadership team, they will feel more comfortable contributing ideas and bringing up “meaty” issues – a way for leaders to keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on inside their organization. 

8. Don’t Micromanage

Instead of exercising excess control over your team, establish clear guidelines and have confidence your employees will do the right thing. Respectful leaders don’t micromanage. Furthermore, managers must distinguish between “delegation” and “empowerment.” Leaders empower their people and consult with them throughout the process.

9. Help Others Bounce Back Quickly from Setbacks

People face obstacles all the time. Caring leaders encourage their employees to build the capacity to address and recover from challenges stronger (and quicker). Leaders can help employees view issues from a fresh perspective. They prompt others to identify unreasonable thoughts and replace them with reasonable and productive ideas.

Leadership Challenge: Which (if not all) of Younger’s nine leadership behaviors do you identify as an area of opportunity for you? What action will you take to implement change?

Brandon Rouse leads a diverse and growing team of professionals well-versed in the challenges facing healthcare today. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, Brandon’s experienced team represents various technological and innovative medical solutions. ZB RX Medical and RX Medical are direct distributors of Zimmer Biomet.