Maybe your people are waiting for you to lean on them

by | May 20, 2020 | Culture

Maybe your people are waiting for you to lean on them

Something has become very clear during these strange times. I don’t mean the fact you should definitely seek a second opinion before following any advice given by Donald Trump. That is: the strength, resilience and generosity of people everywhere clearly knows no bounds.

On a daily basis, I’m blown away by the incredible acts that are being shared. Whether it’s Captain Tom’s amazing feat in raising money for the NHS or the countless other efforts to ensure that people, groups and organisations have what they need to get through these difficult times. These are people that are showing amazing strength and spirit to help causes they believe in and, most importantly, causes that are relying on them.

It’s been great to see so many employers taking significant steps to ensure that their people are safe, happy and healthy. Leaders have shown themselves and their organisations to be shining beacons in their support for their employees. I’m here to let you know that your people are ready and willing to return the favour.


Your human side

At MVMNT, we talk a lot about vulnerability when working with leaders. We believe very firmly in the power of showing authenticity and human weakness as a way to build bonds between leadership and their people. Putting your human side on show and letting your people know how much you’re relying on them is a powerful way of building deeper relationships and developing genuine common purpose.

Many businesses are facing the biggest threat to their futures ever. For some, their industries have come to a standstill. For others, they have lost big clients or potential new business. All the while, they have to remain strong for their people. Quelling fears and providing necessary support. It’s understandable that leaders might be hesitant to lean too heavily on their people. They’re also painfully aware that without them the chances of them making it through these strange times begin to dwindle.

There is a powerful phrase in this circumstance – “I need your help”.


I need a hero

The facts are that there will be people in your ranks that are ready to step up for you and your organisation. People that will respond to a show of vulnerability and a cry for help. These are people who are personally invested in your organisation. Who want to see it succeed. You’ll probably have a good idea who those people are. There will likely be others who might surprise you.

The fantastic book the ‘The Culture Code’ captures this perfectly, using Harry Potter as an analogy. You most likely know who your Harrys, Rons and Hermiones are. You probably have a fairly decent idea who your Dracos are too. However, there are also likely to be some Nevilles in your organisation. No one expects too much of them but then just when you need them most, they step up and make the difference (apologies for the Harry Potter spoilers for the six of you that haven’t read the books or seen the films.)

The point is that there may be some unlikely heroes amongst your people who are just waiting for their opportunity to shine. So, don’t just focus on the people that seem like the most obvious choices.


Everybody needs somebody

Many leaders find the prospect of being vulnerable and open with their people too daunting. They worry that any sign of weakness will compromise their authority and be exploited. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that without it the level of bond and relationship required for success is somewhat unobtainable.

There are obviously some caveats to this approach. There needs to be the foundations of a positive relationship in place. A semblance of strong working culture and goodwill. Employees that feel that they have been exploited, overworked and under rewarded are unlikely willing to be ready to put in the extra effort that you require of them. You may also have concerns regarding the impact that putting extra pressure on certain people might have during already stressful and scary times. Those already struggling may not be able to shoulder extra responsibility and that has to be OK. This is where emotional intelligence becomes an incredibly valuable asset in a leader. The ability to judge what each individual is capable of and when they’ve taken on too much.

It goes without saying that your people need your support and help right now, their mental health, happiness and wellbeing should be your highest priority. However, you also need the help and support of your people – and maybe, it’s ok to ask (not demand) it.

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