Putting the HUMAN Back in Leadership

2019 Carlisle Community Pool Management and Lifeguard Staff

We are all born into this life with the same perspective, the HUMAN perspective.  We all want the same things, to feel connected and cared for, wherever we are in life, and that includes our time at work.  I hope that your perception, at least at some point in your life up to now, was formed with love, and not only receiving but also giving love.  Maybe up to this point, you haven’t really learned how to show someone that you care about him or her.  You might think “Well sure, I say I love you to my family, but I can’t do that with my employees, so what do you want me to do?” My hope is that this article will help you learn how you can show that you care about your team. If you are already showing lots of love to your crew, this article will provide you with some good reminders to help keep your team feeling valued, appreciated, connected and in turn are productive in their work.

To keep the HUMAN perspective will take a conscious effort every day and you will probably need some help along the way.  You can do research and read books on communication, mindfulness, relationships and leadership; and learn even more by attending workshops and conferences.  I have developed an easy acronym to help guide your way back to putting the HUMAN back in your leadership.

H – Be HELPFUL.  Answer questions and offer assistance to your team.  Communicate.  However, before you speak ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, and is it helpful.

U – UNDERSTAND your team.  Ask questions and listen to understand.  Find out what drives them. 

M – Create MEANINGFUL connections with your team.  Inquire about their personal life.  Send a thank you text for all their hard work lately.  Make them a card for their work anniversary.

A – ACKNOWLEDGE and celebrate accomplishments, and ACKNOWLEDGE mistakes as lessons, not only in your team but for yourself as well.

N – NEVER stop caring.  Be considerate, empathetic and encouraging.

Remember that your perspective changes over time, mainly by the people who influence your life like family and friends, your experiences, and your environment – like home, school, church, and work.  Many of these factors also change over time.  All of a sudden, you may have forgotten that we are all HUMAN.  You may be caught up in the hustle and bustle of work.  Your once open mind narrows, and you begin to harden and stop leading with your heart.  For example, you might have started limiting communication with certain team members or realize you have only been acknowledging negative things with a certain employee lately.

If those examples don’t sound like you, I am sure you have either had or heard of the boss who never said they were sorry or even talked about their mess-ups, never celebrated those huge projects you worked so hard on, or never really listened.  I have listed a few examples of a leader with poor judgement, unfortunately, there are many of these cases, and nonetheless I think you get the picture.  

Most of the time, those bad bosses never let their pride or their ego down, to lead with their heart.  In the moment, they care more about being “right” than being considerate, they’re more focused on work than the problems someone else might be facing or they are just not brave enough to be vulnerable with their own lives.  If they were, they would show you that underneath it all, they really do care.

If you are ashamed to admit it, and you have been “that person” lately, it is never too late to start showing that you care about your team.  We all have bad days; where we haven’t been able to see past our noses, so don’t be too hard on yourself.  Your team is ready to feel connected and cared for.  However, if you don’t start to treat them as HUMANS, they will go work somewhere else, maybe even sabotage your job or if nothing else, they will certainly bring down the rest of the team.  

You might read all this and think, “well there’s work to be done and I don’t have time to chat or celebrate every project.”  Showing that you care doesn’t mean chatting the day away or celebrating every little thing.  But just a quick “How’s your mom doing today?” or ask them “How do you feel about doing that report you submitted last week?”. Just by inquiring (personal or work related), will show them that you care. Questions = Caring (in most cases and especially if you’re listening to UNDERSTAND, not just to respond). Remember that if you don’t ACKNOWLEDGE your team’s hard work, they may not put in as much effort next time.  

You might think showing that you care, means letting things slide or allowing people to do less than what is expected of them.  What I really mean is that you need to think before you speak so you are respectful, ask questions and work to understand the situation and your team.  These tips on communicating are really the first steps to creating a MEANINGFUL connection and normally allow opportunity for you to be HELPFUL.  Then you can build that connection through acknowledgement.  But remember most importantly, NEVER stop caring about those you work with.  You are capable of all of this and together, we can put the HUMAN back in leadership. 

Brene Brown has a new book “Dare to Lead” where you can learn more about “Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts…Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work”. 

Author: Kristin Zeigler

Kristin has worked as the Recreation and Pool Manager for the Borough of Carlisle in the Parks and Recreation Department, managing the Carlisle Community Pool since 2006.

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