Bosses and team leaders single-handedly create the office vibe, for better or for worse. Get right with yourself and you’ll find you’ve modeled self-kindness for the whole.
1. Embrace your flaws (publicly)
Your flaws are not deadly, not like product flaws. Your flaws are simply traits that prove you aren’t exactly like the next person. Flaws are attributes that people who love you accept along with the rest of you — but the key here is to also extend that kindness to yourself, with humor. When as a boss you can admit, “Y’all hear me coming, I know. The loudness of my walk has deafened rooms full of innocent people,” employees make note of your self-awareness and respect your ability to laugh at yourself.
2. Practice honesty
When we’re around honest people we not only feel more connected to our own humanity but we trust those people more. Honesty is kindness. Model honesty for your team and you will get it in return. Honesty can be a time-saver; when you bring potential issues to light before they fester and do damage or offer transparency about major business decisions, even salaries, you save time that might otherwise be spent navigating a rumor minefield. Employees sense when something is afoot. Knowing that they have a boss who embodies an attitude of, “Door is open, ask me anything,” allows employees to remain focused on the work at hand.
3. Let your self-talk be kind
Rather than model your leadership and mentoring after Patton, think of yourself as a cooking instructor, tennis coach, or physical therapy trainer and treat yourself with respect and encouragement. Celebrate the small wins, and acknowledge but shrug off the failures. There has been enough of a taste of shame, bizarre discipline, and rigidity in past workplaces. Share personal disappointments and how you navigated them. Be the boss who says, aloud, “Well that happened. Let’s see that mistake without shame and be wiser for it.”
4. Do empathy
Being in a state of empathy is having humanity. Empathy is a state of feeling-listening, witnessing another person’s experience. While entrepreneurs have solutions, fixes, ideas, and advice, those seemingly helpful suggestions are inappropriate when you’re empathizing with someone. Just listen. Be willing to see what another person feels, remembering we all share the same emotional range. (When you put yourself in another’s shoes, you won’t contract their dis-ease.) You can also model empathy by sharing stories or research that touched you with mentors and mentees. Doing empathy unites teams around the human element of the work, the problems you’re solving for clients, clients’ clients, and the world.
5. Eat like you love yourself
The team sees what you eat. Ordering yet another heart health book will only tell you what you already know: eating fresh food (mostly vegetables) and moving your body are the cornerstones of good health. Live what you know. Invest in your bodily wellbeing just as you would your company’s nimbleness and efficiency. Skip the alcohol, lasagna, and dessert and feel free to mention why; “I do this gig best when I eat light meals.”
Be kind to yourself.
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