April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day. It’s interesting that this awareness day is around the same time as the deadline for filing taxes. But what’s even more important is the reason leaders and managers should care about stressed out followers. Leaders, managers, supervisors, vice presidents, CEO’s and everyone in a leadership position should care about stressed out followers because according to Eastern Kentucky University’s Online graphic, work related stress causes $300 Billion (that’s billion with a B!) in costs for health care and missed work days as a result of stress every year. That’s a major revenue leakage. Not only that, the study also indicated that businesses lose another $150 Billion (that’s billion with a B!) through stressed followers that come to work but have low productivity because they are stressed out. And when followers just can’t cope with being stressed in the workplace, they call out at a rate of one million per day at an average cost of $602 per employee. This should get every leader’s attention!
I love this picture! It personifies what situational leadership looks like. More than that, I love what this picture represents. You see, a zebra isn’t supposed to be chasing a lion. At least that’s not the picture most people have in their heads when they hear zebra and lion in the same sentence. It’s usually the lion doing the chasing. That’s what makes this picture so fascinating. It’s outside of the norm.
We automatically associate lions with leading, but can zebra’s lead?
The lion is the king of the jungle. His strength leaves no doubt that he can take care of business. Many fables, and at least one Disney movie , reinforces his position in the jungle. We’ve learned many lessons from the lion, but what can the zebra teach us? Maybe the zebra can teach us about situational leadership.
Whether your title is supervisor, manager, vice-president, or CEO the people who are assigned to follow your lead will honor you more when they know you care. Figuring out how a caring leader behaves, and how a caring leader balances the weight of leadership responsibility is a continuous process of learning how to lead.
Here are five telling behaviors of a caring leader:
1. A leader who cares will share the vision, even involve followers in creating the vision, and ask others how they see themselves fitting into that picture whenever the situation allows for the input of others.
2. A leader who cares will choose to act from strength of character in and out of the presence of her followers.
3. A leader who cares will make time to interact with and listen to those they lead.