It’s called management and it’s your job
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2020 - 12:00am

I have handled people all my life. Even in my young and tender age because my parents told me it was my responsibility to take care of my siblings. They made it crystal clear that I would be held accountable if something happened to them in school. It was tough, but I took on the responsibility. Perhaps because I had been commissioned at home to take charge, the natural inclination for me was to lead when I entered school. I always had friends following me around. I planned things like where to go after class, when to cut classes, what activities to do, and my friends did as they were told. And when I feel like it, I would write their essays since English was my favorite subject. They came to me for advice and I would give them. They even asked me to write their love letters. I was pretty prolific in that area. But I always wondered why I had to do things like these. Why should I be involved with their personal lives and personal issues? But it seemed like a natural thing to do, so I did not complain; I figured this is part of taking charge. Maybe this is why they made me lead.

And then, I read the book of Kim Scott entitled “Radical Candor.” I smiled and understood. In one of the chapters, Kim narrated a story. She says: “I left his desk drained, passing by our quality assurance manager. His child had better news: she’d just received the highest score in the entire state on a standardized math test. He wanted to talk about it. I felt emotional whiplash as I jumped from sympathy to celebration.

By the time I got back to my desk, I had no time or emotional reserves to think about pricing. I cared about each of these people, but I also felt worn out – frustrated that I couldn’t get any “real” work done. Later that day, I called my CEO coach, Leslie Koch, to complain.

“Is my job to build a great company,” I asked, “or am I really just some sort of emotional babysitter?”

Leslie, a fiercely opinionated ex-Microsoft executive, could barely contain herself. “This is not babysitting,” she said. “It’s called management, and it is your job!”

Every time I feel I have something more “important” to do than listen to people, I remember Leslie’s words: “It is your job!” I’ve used Leslie’s line on dozens of new managers who’ve come to me after a few weeks in their new role, moaning that they feel like “babysitters” or “shrinks.”

And then Scott sums it up by saying: “We undervalue the “emotional labor” of being the boss. That term is usually reserved for people who work in the service or health industry: psychiatrists, nurses, doctors, waiters, flight attendants.

This emotional labor is not just part of the job; it’s the key to being a good boss.”

Get the book Radical Candor. It’s one of the best business books I have ever read.

So here we are amid the pandemic. Sometimes you hear things like:

“Don’t you understand we are in a crisis?”

“Our CFO has been pounding on us to work on those receivables and collect the money needed to sustain operations...”

“Our sales director has been on my case since the lockdown began, and he demands more sales...”

“Do I still have to put up with the personal problems of my people when there are so many important things to do?”

I guess by now you would know the answer. “Of course! It’s called management, and it’s your job!”1

There is no other time in life than now that leaders should show care and empathy for their people. Recently, I posted this material in my digital spaces. “Tough times. Targets and revenues a struggle. People working and confined in homes afraid of the virus also fear for their family’s safety. They still have to do parenting and chores. All these add a lot more stress. Leaders’ priority today is not just meeting goals but also to consider the well-being of their people. There is no more critical time than now for leaders to show empathy. It is what leadership is all about.”

Show your people that as a leader, you care. Your people need it. Just a warning though: You cannot fake care. You have to mean it. You may not be able to remove their stresses, but you should not add more to it. Offer encouragement and show compassion. Why? Because you are “Management.” And it is your job.

(Attend the live webinar this Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Francis Kong will host, and Pastor Chad Williams of Union Church of Manila will speak on “Finding Strength in The Small Things.” Live via Facebook@francisong2)

1 Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition: Be a Kick ....

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