Editor’s note: Gary Harpst is the founder and CEO of LeadFirst.
More than anything else, Millennials and Gen Z workers want employers to care about their well-being. Sure, they need a paycheck, but they also want leaders who are invested in their mental, physical and emotional health and who are committed to helping them live up to their potential. Frankly, it’s not just a generational thing. Humans of all ages crave this style of leadership. But what does it really mean to care about your employees?
It boils down to showing them unconditional love – also called agape – and that’s a lot tougher than you might think. Agape love is about relating to someone with their best interests in mind, regardless of their response. This is far from easy because, as we all know, employees don’t always behave the way we’d like them to.
You might be thinking love, especially a form with Christian connotations, doesn’t belong in business. But – regardless of your belief system – there’s a very good reason to love your employees: It’s the only way to get them to subsume their individual desires and pull together to work toward your mission. Without love, there’s chaos.
Just as there must be a form of energy holding together the trillions of atoms that make up a single cell in the body, there must also be a force uniting team members and holding them together. In the network of human relationships that make up a great organization, love is that bonding force. Learning to practice it is the No. 1 job of a leader. It is a huge part of bringing order out of chaos.
Do a gut check about your attitude towards other people. Do you care for people as a manipulation technique or as something worthwhile in itself? If you are being kind and loving only to get what you want, people will eventually recognize that you are being insincere. It’s not enough to go through the motions – your caring must come from within.