By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH: How much time will caring for and growing my people demand of me?
ANSWER: Caring for and growing people does not cost money, but it does require a considerable amount of time. Caring and growing people cannot be done by email because it is, by definition, a face-to-face activity.
Care and growth gets done, as opposed to talked about, in three contexts: one-on-one discussions, team meetings, and in the ‘field’ where direct reports are getting the work done.
The starting point therefore is for leaders to spend sufficient time with their people. This often requires leaders to radically change how they are spending their time and what they are giving their attention to.
Spending sufficient time with their reports is critically important for leaders because the prime indicator of what anyone cares about is what the leader gives attention to and where she spends her time – simply because one has time for what one cares about.
Leaders who genuinely care about their people shift their attention from the results to their people – in line with their shift in intention from being in the relationship with their people to GET results out of them to being in the relationship to GIVE to their people what they need to become exceptional contributors and realise the best in themselves.
When leaders do not make the twin shifts in intention (from ‘get’ to ‘give’) and attention (from results to people) their people will undoubtedly conclude that whatever is important to their leaders, it is not them. They will infer, from the lack of time spent with them, that they are not valued relative to whatever is getting their leader’s attention. Trust, willingness and loyalty will suffer as a result.
Where any leader’s attention is focused is reflected in entries in his diary or calendar. Leaders who are doing care and growth have scheduled regular times in their diaries for one-on-ones, team meetings and for ‘watching the game’.
Leaders who abrogate or avoid their care and growth responsibilities have fewer or no such entries in their diaries.
Leaders’ diaries, in other words, never lie.