There is one thing we teach relentlessly to our clients, that leadership is a part of every position in your business. As we examine, align, and leverage talent, we instill a new viewpoint about teams; that all internal members are business contributors, not job holders. Everyone must be on board to motivate company growth and continuity through their respective area of concentration. They do this by leading in their role as a business contributor. As leaders, there are two aspects to consider, how you will build and maintain connection while motivating change and improvement.
The first side of leadership is care and compassion. You know this as the ability to sympathize and express kindness and consideration for another. Care and compassion as part of the professional relationship helps leaders to establish strong associations with their teams to build trust. When compassion is part of your leadership approach, you have the foundation for effective collaboration, individual dependability, and the right basis for encouraging collective growth.
Be careful, care and compassion must be managed. Too much of a good thing can lead you down a rabbit hole of never getting to the second side of leadership, growth and change. As a leader you must balance care and compassion with difficult feedback. Don’t let the foundation for a great working relationship impede your ability to define actions to improve and communicate your expectations for specific outcomes of these actions.
Clients tell us that the expression “we’re a team” can be misleading and challenge leadership. Individual performance can be masked by a “team approach” to solving problems, pushing accountability from one member to the next, and never getting to check something off the problem list. Compassionate leadership provides direct and actionable feedback to all members. When it appears that a team member is underperforming, the most compassionate thing you can do is address specific issues with steps to resolve and associated outcomes to provide a clear path to improvement.
How can small business leaders find the balance between both sides of leadership? Performance concerns should be included in regular feedback dialogue. We do this quarterly, to keep teams on track with the requirements for success in their role. The integration of good and challenging feedback into quarterly progress checks prevents confusion and clarifies a path to success. Every day at the office or remote meetings there is an opportunity to practice giving both positive and challenging feedback on an agenda item. We find that team members need time to implement new actions, and to achieve your expected outcomes.
Balancing two sides of leadership, care and compassion with direct feedback, meets the needs of your team and your company. Think about both sides of the leadership conversation as you prepare to make important decisions in the New Year.