Leadership Behaviors

Valentines Day has become a commercialized way of addressing the basic human need for feeling loved and cared about – at least on one day a year . But it can be much more than this one day of Romance. It should also make us reflect on the basic human needs that make Valentines Day the elevated day that it has become.   As we move towards another Valentine’s Day, today’s Delfi column explores some acceptable ways that leaders can make the positive feelings, associated with this day, become a more regular experience throughout the year.

A very wise person once gave the four basic truths about human emotion:

  • We all have moments of INSECURITY – and feelings of brokenness.
  • We all HATE to be dismissed – to be judged as unworthy of being taken seriously.
  • We all LOVE to feel appreciated.
  • We all STRIVE to be understood.

These truths apply to you and I – and they apply to the people in our lives and in our workplaces. So leaders – take note. Go out of your way to implement one or more of the following recommendations in your relationships with people in your workplace.

  1. Demonstrate Caring. Show concern for employees as people, not just as sources of revenue production or service delivery. Every employee is someone’s child, someone’s parent or friend, someone’s caregiver. They all have challenges, excitements, dreams, opportunities.   They also have fears and worries about their ability to succeed and do a good job. Demonstrate caring by helping them succeed; by protecting them from harm, by helping them grow their skills and abilities. Demonstrate caring by giving them the best tools to work with, a pleasant environment to be in at work. Demonstrate caring by streamlining work processes and eliminating wasted effort. Demonstrate caring by respecting their needs and interests as much as you do with your customers. Customer care and experience scores are a direct product of the employee care and experience scores that you earn with your team.
  2. Be fully present when you are interacting with another person. Multi-tasking when you are in a conversation with an employee quickly communicates that something else is more important than these few minutes that you have together . Our social media tools cry out for our attention – and are brutal in their ability to dismiss people in front of us from our full attention. Our fascination and curiosity about these electronic messages not only cause death and injury on our highways, they damage our relationships with others. We have all felt temporarily dismissed or under-valued by someone who checks the handheld device in the middle of a conversation. It is fascinating to realize that most of us would never let another person physically interrupt while we were speaking to another – or take a ‘traditional’ phone call in the office in the middle of an important conversation.   How easy it has become to practice the opposite behaviours with our new social media technology. Remember – people hate feeling dismissed and unworthy of our attention. To my knowledge, we have yet to create a hand-held device that erases electronic messages within minutes of receipt.
  3. Show Recognition and Appreciation. How much better our world would feel if our daily morning vitamin supplements included 500 mg of recognition and appreciation. We are all deficient in these two essential ingredients of well-being – and neither can be delivered through an artificial supplement. Our need for recognition and achievement can only be fulfilled through our interactions with others – and only if the ‘other’ takes the opportunity to express these. As a leader in a workplace, you are a ‘significant other’ in the lives of your employees. Opportunities to recognize and express appreciation are free gifts that you should never miss an opportunity to give away. They are the currency of engagement and commitment in a workplace – and far more effective than salary or financial gifts. Practice providing genuine compliments and statements of recognition to others. Expressing appreciation and recognition does not always come easily to a leader. But when used at the right time when it is genuinely felt, it can work miracles in your relationships.
  4. Strive to Know and Understand. We all have a strong need to feel understood. Get to know your employees. Show interest in their family and non-work lives. Listen for messages about things that are important to them. We all feel affirmed when individuals around us show an appropriate degree of interest in us as people. It allows us to challenge our feelings of self-doubt when someone else sees value in taking the time to get to know a little more about us.

The four basic truths of human emotion are real and powerful.    What have you done recently to address any of these basic truths on your workplace or in your personal life ? This valentine season, share and enjoy the day – but also commit to making one positive adjustment in your personal interaction behaviours with others over this next year. You will enrich the lives of those around you – at work and in your personal life. You will be a living example that Valentines can be much more than one day in February when we seek ways to express the human emotion of love and caring. It will be a small start in improving your relationships with others, with your community, and perhaps even start a small ripple in the bigger world that we all live in.