The more humanity you show, the better you are as a leader

If your employees could choose between a pay raise or you becoming a better leader, what would they pick?

There are good chances you think your employees would just hum Barrett Strong’s song ‘Money’, “Your leadership gives me such a thrill, but your leadership don’t pay my bliss, I need money!”. Well, surprise, surprise: a surveyrevealed that 65% of Americans said a better leader would make them happy while only 35% chose a pay raise. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? People over money.

According to the Gallup Research Organization, if your employees feel their leader really cares about them are more productive, more engaged, and are significantly more likely to stay at their current job for longer.

The blog Tell Your Bossgives employees who struggle with their bosses interesting advice on how to deal with them. That’s exactly the webpage we hope your employees will never have to consult. How can you avoid ending up on the ‘bad bosses blacklist’ -along with Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch, for the record- and become a great leader just like Larry Page(CEO at Alphabet, Google’s parent company) or Howard Schultz(former CEO of Starbucks)?

Kim Scott, author of the book Radical Candor: How to Be a Great Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, is the solution of all of your problems -except for losing weight; you’ll actually need to cut down on those fries for that. What a bummer, I know.

First of all, what in the world is “Radical Candor”? I got you: it is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally about your employees at the same time. It means saying what you honestly think while also listening to what the other person has to say and showing them that you care. This will help you and all the people you work with build relationships on the workplace and guide your team to achieve results.

Small talk about birthday parties and weekend plans are part of your duty

Remember “emotional labor”and listening to people is part of your job as a manager, it doesn’t mean wasting your time on small talk or being an emotional baby sitter… at all!

How are you supposed to manage people within an organization if you have no clue about what kind of people they are and what’s going on in their lives?

For example, would you push your daughter to play a sport you know she really hates? I doubt it. But what if you had no clue she hated it? In order to avoid that to happen, you need to know what her interests and passions are, and what she dislikes.

It works the same way on the workplace: deep relationships are key.

According to Scott, if a leader is not capable of Challenging Directly and showing he or she Cares Personally at the same time, it creates deceiving behaviors that many leaders mistakenly believe are actually good.

3 potential pitfalls

You can think of the first one, Ruinous Empathy, i.e. when you care personally but don’t challenge your employees, as a very apprehensive mom who just worries about her child but doesn’t give him the mental tools he needs to grow up. It is pure praise, which doesn’t help the employee understand what was good about their work because it’s not specific or sugarcoated criticism.

Then there is the Obnoxious Aggression, which resembles the typical “evil boss”: the one who puts a hierarchical barrier between him and his employees. In this case, he only challenges without caring, meaning that criticism doesn’t have a purpose and is only delivered for the pleasure of it, and praise is not sincere.

Lastly, Manipulative Insincerity, is similar to that one “friend” who, for his own entertainment, doesn’t stop you from drunk-texting your ex even though he knows you’re going to make a fool out of yourself. This happens when you neither care nor challenge: praise is insincere and vague, and criticism is neither clear nor kind.

On the other side, if you are willing to follow the Radical Candor philosophy of management, you should bring your whole person to work rather than wear a “work mask” and being “just professional”.

In fact, Caring Personally is more than only caring about your employees’ ability to perform a certain job, you need to care about them as human beings and really get to know them on a deep level. It’s about having real conversations, learning what’s important to people, and what their aspirations are beyond their careers. This way you’ll be able to build trust, understand what motivates them, and drive results collaboratively.

The second dimension of Radical Candor, Challenge Directly, consists of letting people know when their job isn’t good enough and why, even though that’s usually uncomfortable for both sides. Challenging people and delivering hard, direct feedback is, in fact, one of the best ways to show your employees that you care about them and their professional and personal development. This also works the other way around: challenging others to challenge you also helps build trusting relationships.

After all, also you, the leader, can make mistakes; you’re human, too.

By Matilde Rebori and Morten Melby.

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