The term "caring leadership" is used to describe leaders who are concerned not only with the success of their company but also with the well-being of their employees. This type of leadership can have a tremendous impact on an organisation's bottom line by improving productivity, reducing turnover, and increasing customer satisfaction.
What is caring leadership?
Caring leadership is a concept that has been studied for decades, and it's easy to see why. Caring leaders can create organisations with strong cultures of care and support where employees feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. A caring leader cares about the people around them by creating an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, appreciated, engaged in conversation, challenged as well as heard.
"No leader fully arrives at a destination labelled "Caring Leader," but those who report to them immediately feel the positive impact of the shifts in behaviour," writes best-selling author Heather R. Younger in her new book, "The Art of Caring Leadership."
"Therefore, caring leadership is an art form where the leader consistently adds different brushstrokes to her behaviours to elicit more positive emotions in those she leads," she adds.
What is not caring leadership?
To better understand what caring leadership is, it might be helpful to understand what it is not. While being articulate and charismatic can make a great leader, caring leadership is not just about being an effective communicator—it's about how leaders behave both inside and outside of work that matters in terms of their impact on those around them.
Younger writes that leaders who have words but no actions "leave their people feeling battered and taken for granted, as though what they have to offer means nothing to the organisation." She says a careless leader has one or all of the following five characteristics:
- Never responds to an employee when they make a request.
- Makes it hard for employees to advance in their careers.
- Micromanages people, making them feel "squeezed away from independent thinking and action."
- Shows favouritism, excluding some team members.
- Lacks empathy and compassion for those they lead. They only care about employees getting the job done.
How does caring leadership affect ROI?
Caring leadership not only results in an increased sense of belonging among employees but also impacts the bottom line. Leaders who care are seen as more trustworthy. Others are more likely to recommend an organisation with a caring leader than one without.
"There is a direct correlation between the treatment of employees and their productivity," writes Melissa Houston in a review of Younger's book for Forbes, adding that caring leadership leads to lower attrition, reduced absenteeism, engaged employees, and, in turn, higher customer satisfaction.
"Lower attrition rates and employee retention are always favourable for a company's bottom line, which is why it really does pay to tune into the needs of your employees by doing what it takes to become a more caring leader," she adds.