By Tracy Kite, author of Love to Lead (£14.99, PanomaPress)
This may at first glance seem an odd topic for the business environment – what has care got to do with business?
I believe it’s essential in creating successful organisations and I explain why here.
My background is in healthcare, so it isn’t a huge departure for me to consider care within a business context – I appreciate it will be far more difficult for those working in sectors that are determined by hard data and equally hard management styles. That said I’ve never met any credible leader, in any sector, who says they don’t care!
Firstly, what do I mean by ‘care’ in the workplace? Philosophers have been working for centuries to pin down exactly what ‘care’ means and it’s surprisingly complex. Care can mean troublesome worries and woes, as in “all the cares in the world”; however, here we are discussing the solicitous and genuine act of caring for another person, situation, issue or object.
In organisations, we have to both ‘take care of’ the business processes, objectives and outcomes as well as ‘care for’ our people and ‘care about’ how we do things there. Caring is what it’s all about – it isn’t soft and unprofessional, simply a human perspective on those we work with, what we work for and how we do it.
To explain this, I have developed a model of care for business. Through this, I hope you will come to realise that caring isn’t an indulgent weakness in the workplace, but a challenge for leaders, which if implemented well, can measurably impact on the success of the organisation.
Caring about organisational culture captures the leadership skills and behaviours which help teams understand the ethos and expectations of the organisation. People have to work within the confines of organisational culture – culture defines how things happen in the organisation and what will and won’t be expected or tolerated. Leaders create culture – they create the expectations and role model the behaviours which others will follow. You can choose to create a culture consciously, but you have to care about it – and invest in it – to do so.
The business outcomes and taking care of business goals, measurable performance and data are essential for organisational success. The ‘hard’ information and the agreed performance measures are required from established business processes and techniques. It is the area where leaders must challenge, ask the tough questions and facilitate clear and honest feedback; where a leader and their team must work together to evidence that effort has occurred for the benefit of the organisation. Again, to do this well, you’ll have to care about it. Caring comes most easily here as it’s what is generally most valued in business.
Caring for the individual and their personal development needs is the final point of the triangle. Caring about an individual does not imply a lack of challenge, tough questions and clear feedback. In fact, a caring approach provides a safe place for people, so we can lead them from a highly challenging and demanding position; because the individual knows they are cared for with genuineness and authenticity by their manager and can therefore tolerate and work with the challenges more comfortably.
Organisations work most successfully when we care. Use the three point model to ensure you direct your approach, in a human way, to all the essential aspects of great business.
About the author
Tracy Kite is author of of Love to Lead (£14.99, PanomaPress). She has many years of experience in the design, delivery and implementation and evaluation of learning and leadership development programmes. Her work is focussed on achieving strategic and operational leadership excellence and a defined return on investment for organisations