I recently met a friend after several years, and we sat down to discuss how things were going, which is when my friend started down his path of frustration, insecurity, confusion, and uncertainty. This was all about work, and as I listened to my friend, it seemed that these feelings were driven by a poor economy and because of a lack of direction from the community and organizational leadership. When my friend left, I had time to reflect upon the conversation we had just had.
There is nothing I can do to address the economy, but there is something that I have been concerned about for several years in my professional life – leadership and its impact on groups and organizations. When I think about all the leaders I have interacted with over the years, I realized that I have always admired and followed a certain quality in their leadership style.
These leaders were the ones who were the most effective in providing security and direction to their followers, and I admit that I didn’t appreciate their ability to always focus on the human level. The biggest and most influential factor about these leaders was that they were humans trying to do the best job they could do, without causing any pain or damage to others. Great leaders are always focused on the other person and their needs, instead of being worried about what they expect from them as a leader.
This reminded me about an old saying by John C. Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
It is also consistent with the work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence. Goleman talked about how the best leaders were the ones who were emotionally intelligent. This is because they were self-aware, and understood the importance of feelings when dealing with other people. They didn’t rule by their feelings but used their feelings to connect with others to understand how they were feeling. It was focusing on the human level, which allowed them to demonstrate care and compassion.
Do you think that effective leaders are those who focus on the human level?