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From the coaching couch

What we are appreciating about our leaders
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Congratulations to all the leaders out there doing more than what’s required as you navigate the wave of new challenges brought on by the pandemic. People do notice and you are appreciated!

Today, we’re sharing some insights around what people are telling us they appreciate most about their leaders. The work we do allows us to hear what’s happening between leaders and their people. Leaders themselves are telling us that they’ve never felt as much responsibility as they do right now. It’s a tough time to be accountable for people, regardless of the industry you’re in. To say 2021 has been a big year for those in leadership roles is an understatement. We are judging and critiquing all that they do, especially when it comes to their behaviour, impact and ability to support us through a global pandemic. We do not expect our leaders to be perfect, but we do want to see integrity, authenticity and a high care factor in all that they do.

Our coaching team has collated the below summary of the leadership traits people are telling us they value most. If you’re a leader and not demonstrating these attributes and commitments, think of this as a personal action list to reflect on.

  1. Commitment – You’ve been telling us that when leaders arrange check-in calls and performance reviews, and don’t reschedule, you feel valued. Such a simple show of consideration and respect can have a massive impact.
  2. Random gestures – Who knew those surprise hampers, gift vouchers and unexpected check-in calls could mean so much! You are loving the recognition that this is a tough time and really appreciate leaders who are organising something that helps you get through the day.
  3. Flexibility – This is a big one. So many people are working from home or in hybrid situations, all whilst juggle home schooling or caring for family. As it turns out, you’re motivated to work harder for leaders when they say ‘just do what you can’. Demand for such flexibility will likely stick around. A recent Harvard Business School Online study showed that most people have excelled while working from home and 81 per cent either don’t want to return to the office or would opt for a hybrid approach going forward.
  4. Trust – Many of you are telling us that you feel really trusted by your leader to do all the right things, even when you’re not in their direct line of sight. Isn’t this amazing?! Remember when working from home was viewed as an ‘easy day’ and there was a lingering suspicion that people would take advantage if they could? The opposite appears to be true; in a report from Mercer, more than 90 per cent of employers said productivity had stayed the same or improved with employees working remotely.
  5. A personalised approach – Zoom, Teams and all those other online platforms have given leaders access into our homes. Rather than seeing it as an invasion of privacy, you’re telling us that you appreciate it when your leader remembers your child’s name or calls out a hello to your partner. An added benefit, according to a report from The Forward Institute, is that many managers have upped their duty of care towards employees off the back of this increased personal connection – developing a greater appreciation for their whole life circumstances and, as a result, showing more flexibility.
  6. Vulnerability – We couldn’t count the number of people who’ve told us they feel closer and more understanding of their leader now as a result of a vulnerable moment that was shared. How awesome is this?
  7. Authenticity – When you see your leader looking tired, laughing at the dog or appearing annoyed at their child, it really humanises them. And it doesn’t just make us like them more; research tells us that authentic leadership is a strong predictor of job satisfaction and can positively impact work-related attitudes and happiness.
  8. Honesty – This makes our heart sing. We’ve been hearing so many stories of people who, for the first time, are having honest conversations about what they really want from their careers. Maybe the distance of online communication provides a safe space to speak our truth, or maybe this COVID thing has really allowed us to find our voice when it comes to uncovering what really matters. Whatever the reason, we are talking more about values, future career plans and goals, like study.
  9. Human connection – Plenty of people are saying ‘I would not want my leader’s job right now’. You do have empathy for how much they are having to carry. Many leaders never expected to become fluent in mental health challenges and how to respond. Some of you are really empathic to the learning curve your leaders are on.

Now, I know some of you might be reading this, feeling very ripped off because your experience is quite different. If you’re not getting what you need, then maybe this is the sign you’ve been looking for to either explore other opportunities or maybe this article could support you in a conversation at work.

To all the leaders out there who can look at the above list and tick off multiple points, thank you for all that you’re doing. And keep up the good work.

Research professor, author, podcast producer and ‘vulnerability guru’ Brené Brown highlighted the importance of brave leadership during COVID at the Qualtrics ‘Work Different’ virtual event last year. (Here’s a hint: empathy, care and connection play a really big part.) You can read an overview of Brown’s presentation, backed by her research into courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, here.

- The Coach Place Global.

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