Originally published in Forbes.
The old saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” should be a leadership mantra. If you are going to inspire the hearts and minds of your people, then you must demonstrate care and respect for your employees as individuals. Here are five key leadership habits to show your people that you care:
1. Be available. Being available means that you, as the leader, have set aside or scheduled a time where you can converse and interact without distractions with those people most important to your role. This begins with your immediate direct reports and managers, or those with whom you work most closely. Managers often say, “My door is always open,” but when an employee stops by to talk, the manager is often busy doing another task, and the exchange often isn’t as impactful as it could be. A common mistake is to assume that just because you are around someone a lot, you always have the chance to talk. In reality, while you might engage in a lot of small talk, you often don’t actually have meaningful conversations.
In working with leaders around the world, I urge them to schedule time each week for meetings, but to limit the length of meetings to 15 minutes, so those who wish to speak come prepared and ready to talk. Being available is about your team having not just physical access to you, but also your mental and emotional attention. Your team must feel comfortable bringing you all types of information. If you get upset or angry every time you receive bad information, then your team will quickly stop coming to you. Being available also means being ready to listen.
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