We all know that past sixteen months have been a challenge in a myriad of ways. A question all leaders should be asking right now is "How is my eyesight?"
Of the multitude of lessons to be learned from the Covid 19 pandemic and all of its attendant adversity, one of the most powerful is the fact that everyone in an organization, from the CEO to the janitor, is human. We all put our pants on the same way. We all have the same mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.
This point was driven home with the huge dependance on virtual calls via Zoom, Skype, Teams and other platforms where the lines between professional life and home life became blurred. It is no longer uncommon to come into a virtual meeting with the understanding that some participants may have children or pets at home who may interrupt the meeting. Cats may jump on laps. Dogs may bark. Kids may rush into the room. The delivery man may ring the doorbell.
While these interruptions may seem a little inconvenient, in my experience, they've actually been a blessing in the sense that everyone on the calls is being helped to realize that behind the "company face" that so many of us use to wear to the office, there are actual human beings.
Leaders, are you seeing those human beings? Are you taking advantage of the opportunity Covid 19 has provided you to get a closer look into your colleagues lives and connect with them on a personal level previously unattainable? Do you have the courage to be vulnerable and let them feel, see, and know you care about them as people?
Can you see the look in Carol's eyes when she gets on the call, that tells you she's dead tired. Do you consider asking, before diving into the meeting, how she is really doing?
Can you hear the strain in John's voice as he responds to your perfunctory "good morning" and the casual, "how are you?" If you do, are you taking a minute, when it's just the two of you, to say, "no John, it's just you and me. I can hear the strain in your voice. How are you really doing? How can I help you?"
Why does any of this matter? It matters because the way forward to success in building powerful, trustworthy relationships is paved with the kindness behaviors of listening, caring, opening our hearts, and truly seeking to understand our colleagues. Gone are the days when hearing the words "kindness" and "business" in the same sentence produce chuckles from the crowd. In are the days when leaders recognize that it is the behaviors encompassed by the circle of kindness are the very behaviors that allow organizations to reach a level of organizational cohesiveness that will truly unleash creativity, innovation, productivity, and overall prosperity.
So leaders, colleagues, how is your eyesight? can you see the human?