Lead With CARE - HeadStrongPerformance

Lead With CARE

“Leadership isn’t about being in the front, it’s about elevating others, even when you’re in the back.”

Kilani Daane


Our capacity to lead with utmost effectiveness depends on four simple behavioral traits that, when applied together, form a powerful approach to inspiring and motivating greater action in people that we care about. This article highlights those four behaviors and explores some of the research behind them.

It doesn’t take much effort to look around and identify examples of people in leadership positions behaving poorly. From presidents of countries to CEOs of companies, there still seems to be much confusion in this world with regards to what effective leadership looks like.

In my role as an Executive Leadership Coach, I have had the privilege of meeting many great leaders who acquired my services with a desire to be even better. On the other had, I have also had my share of experiences with many managers who underestimated the amount of time, energy and commitment that’s required to be the best leader they could be. Some of those managers have, with coaching, managed to successfully transform themselves into the leaders they deserve to be, as where others were not so effective.

Those managers who may not be naturally inclined to be people leaders sometimes struggle with the concept of emotional intelligence and its role in inspiring and motivating others to pursue a common goal. In a recent conversation with a very strong manager who possesses excellent managerial skills, we were talking about the importance of human relationships in leadership and when touching on the subject of emotional intelligence, he confided in me that he reads many leadership books. What he struggles with is that while literature is telling him he should be more empathetic and compassionate, he walks away feeling even guiltier and feeling incompetent.

The good news is that emotional intelligence, and being a people leader as being a skill that can be learned by anyone with a little effort. Of course, there are those who were born with a predisposed talent toward being people leaders and there are those who were not born with that talent, but do have a desire to learn how to be a better people leader.

For those clients of mine, who were not born as natural people leaders, I have developed a simple 4-step model to help guide them in their practice. It’s this model that I would like to share with you today. It’s called: Leading With C.A.R.E

Lead With C.A.R.E

Our ability to lead effectively is dependent on whether or not we earn followship from those people we want to lead. To allow ourselves to be inspired and want to follow another person’s example is a delicate might be a complicated psychological process. At a fundamental level, however, leadership is earned through trust, which when consistently earned and positively reinforced, molds into loyalty by our followers.

C.A.R.E is a model that I developed a number of years ago to help organizations improve customer service, but have since also been using as a leadership development tool as it is also extremely powerful on an individual level.

C.A.R.E is an acronym that stands for: Connect on a personal level, Anticipate Needs, Relentlessly Pursue Greatness, and finally, Empower, Elevate, and Encourage Others.

The model has since helped numerous executives improve their effectiveness as leaders, but interestingly, it also works wonderfully as a Service Model for all staff as well as a Sales Technique.

The reason for this is because Leadership, Customer Service, and Sales all require a level of trust and loyalty from others.

Connect On A Personal Level

It goes without saying that building loyalty and trust is easier with people we know well. In his book: How To Win friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie spoke of 6 simple ways to make people better like you. As simple as those 6 ways are, in the craziness of today’s high-paced and disruptive world some of these basic techniques can easily be lost, or not practiced enough to generate that fundamental human connection required with leadership.

Those six ways are:

  1. Be genuinely interested in others
  2. Smile a lot
  3. Remember and use people’s names
  4. Be a good listener and encourage others to do the talking
  5. Think and speak in the best interest of others
  6. Sincerely make others feel valued

Anticipate Needs

The second step in developing a deeper level of trust is in our ability to anticipate the needs of others and act on those needs with a sense of urgency.

In a 2014 article by Forbes Magazine called: Stop ‘Listening ‘and Start Anticipating Your Customer’s Needs, the author illustrates that great brands don’t listen to what is being expressed, but rather attempt to listen to what is not being said, but is being felt, so they can act before the customer expresses their needs.

A catastrophic error in leadership is that managers have a tendency to wait until someone speaks up about a particular issue before addressing it. Generally speaking, people do not speak up until things have escalated to an unmanageable degree. In 2014, Harvard Business Review published an article: “How To Get Your Employees To Speak Up” and offer a number of tips to help improve communication from our staff. A great suggestion was No 1. “To zero in on the source of Silence, which is 100% necessary when anticipating needs. We tend to pay attention to those people who are most verbal, when in fact; we should be most concerned about the ones who are most quiet.

How do we hear for what is NOT being said? We use all of our senses to listen for the quiet, observe behavioral patterns, and feel the climate in the office. This requires much more than a listening ear. The leader who can fully anticipate needs is the mindful leader who has the capacity to be fully present and in the moment.

In 2016, Harvard Business Review published an article on Mindful Leadership called: “How To Bring Mindfulness To Your Company’s Leadership”. In this article, the authors shared that with just 10 minutes of mindfulness training per day, leaders saw a dramatic improvement in three key areas that are also essential in our capacity to better anticipate needs.

Those 3 Key Areas Are:

  1. Metacognition: The ability to regulate our internal conversations.
  2. Acceptance or Allowing: The ability to let go of our criticism and judgments of ourselves and our external worlds.
  3. Genuine Curiosity: Taking a lively interest in our internal and external worlds.

Relentlessly Pursue Greatness

It might seem like a no-brainer that we need to pursue getting better at what we do to become more effective. However, from a leadership perspective relentlessly pursuing greatness should not be an individual mission, but an organizational one that is driven by the senior leadership.

Driving a “growth” culture throughout the organization is not an easy task says Stephen J. Gill in his book: Developing a Learning Culture In Nonprofit Organizations. Gill mentions, in his book, that developing a learning and growth culture is not the same as a “training” culture. Where training is the acquisition of knowledge and experience, learning is the behavior change that follows the acquisition of knowledge or experience. The differentiator here is in the behavior change that we want to see from gaining experience.

In a 2015 article in SHRM Magazine called: How To Create A Learning Culture, author Robert J. Grossman highlights that companies in the US spend over 162 Billion US Dollars per year on training, but the jury is still out whether or not those companies are getting a decent return of investment on that training.

Without leadership driven efforts to inspire and motivate positive action in response to training and experience, behavior change will likely be minimal. Especially in organizations where people are inundated by dynamic challenges on a daily basis, their brains will simply not have the capacity to put their learnings into positive action.

At HeadStrong Performance, we believe that before learning can happen, we must first ensure that the collective brains that make up a team or organization are primed to be able to put their learnings into action. Primers that build brain capacity can include basic lifestyle habits such as sleep, exercise, and nutrition, but also stress and resilience management. Stressed out and exhausted employees simply will not have the same capacity to apply themselves on a daily basis as someone who is well rested and centered. It’s as simple as that.

The second driver in effective behavior change from the acquisition of knowledge or experience is whether or not the individual, team, or organization possesses a “growth mindset” rather than a “fixed mindset”

Simply put, are we seeing our challenges, as failures or learning opportunities, are we focused on short-term gains over long-term growth, and finally, do we do what we do because we want the world to worship us, or do we do what we do because it feels amazing when we do it.

Based on Carol Dweck’s work and book “Mindset – The New Psychology for Success” she discovered in her research that people with growth mindsets tend to outlast and outgrow their counterparts with fixed mindsets.

Only once our people have the brain capacity to learn and possess a growth mindset, will our efforts to inspire greatness be effective. As you can see, relentlessly pursuing greatness is a much larger process than just getting better. It requires the relentless commitment to growth and learning as well as a relentless commitment to inspiring and motivating our team members to be healthy, fit, and resilient.

Empower, Elevate, and Encourage Others

A recent survey published in Psychology Today, showed that more than 80% of employees find praise more powerful than a raise. In this day and age, where budgets are dwindling, companies need to invest in every FREE resource they can to help hold on to their talent. Positive reinforcement, therefore, is essential in any relationship, but especially effective in leadership.

Focusing on shortcomings, providing feedback, and making appropriate adjustments are all part of necessary management practices says Bruce Jones of the Disney Institute in his article in the Harvard Business Review. However, where Disney does things differently is by also proactively going out and searching for those people who are doing it right. Once identified, these people are celebrated, which creates a great message of modeling performance excellence.

Jones describes that celebrating people doing it right is done at three different levels within Disney, being

  1. Organizational level
  2. Leadership Level
  3. Amongst Peers.

Another article from Harvard Business Review called: “Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive”, shares some statistics on the importance of actively driving a positive culture within your organization.


If your desire is to be a greater influence on yourself, your team, your organization, and even your customers, you will need to build stronger relationships. C.A.R.E could be an excellent tool to help you evaluate where you are as a leader and what you might want to focus on to become that leader you deserve to be.

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