May 24

Characteristics of Caring Leadership

Michael Dorn
Michael Dorn is HR Consultant at personal total HR consulting group

In my opinion CL does not correspond to the known categorizations of management styles as for example ´authoritarian´ or ´cooperative´. No matter which of those categories a leader belongs to, he (using the masculin form for this text because of readability) might be a caring or not-so-caring leader. As an example the authoritarian manager can be a caring one i.e. by being upfront with his staff, clear in his instructions and hence ´calculable´ for everyone working with him.

At first sight the cooperative style might be the one that best fits caring leadership. For me though cooperative leaders often risk being intransparent and often back down from a constructive confrontation. This might be problematic, since social interaction in parts consists of anticipation and strategy in order to be successful. So, independent of different management styles there must be in my opinion other criteria that define Caring Leadership in social interaction within companies. In this context I particularly think of ´transparency´, ´constructive criticism´ and ´individuality´ (of course that’s not all CL is about).

As already mentioned above, transparency has special importance to me, since it in a way constitutes a framework for social interaction. Transparency allows employees to cooperate properly, to avoid conflicts getting out of control and to identify chances for themselves, their department and their company. In addition and above all

transparency shows the respect of the leader for his staff

transparency shows the respect of the leader for his staff and his awareness of the staff´s importance within the value chain.

Constructive criticism in this context means positive criticism, for example praise, as well as negative criticism, i.e. expressing disapproval. I guess ´praise´ as a caring-instrument is selfexplaining but especially by expressing his disapproval a leader can show his caring attitude. The caring leader can find out in cooperation with the employee what went wrong in the past and what can be done in the future in order to optimize and to achieve the defined aims.

Since there won´t be something as the prototype of dealing with employees in general, I´ve put the point ´individualism´ at the end of my written thoughts. I think awareness of people´s individuality is a quite easy thing to understand and at the same time a hard thing to translate into action. To know about the individual`s forces, weaknesses, problems etc. might sometimes be impossible but certainly caring and also meaningful in a professional and preferably profit-making context.

As an HR consultant I got to know lots of leaders throughout the past few years. Especially in job interview situations and the following placement-process I could observe different kinds of behaviour – sometimes caring, sometimes not. I think it can often already be seen in those pre-employment-situations if the future line manager cares for his staff. There are a few hints that seem important to me. Examples I think of are: giving feedback for an application as soon as possible, organize interview-dates which are possible and (relatively) comfortable for every participant, letting the applicant know how long it will take until he gets a feedback after the interview, giving the feedback personally and not by standard email etc… In addition there are a lot more indications of caring leadership, for example concerning mimic and gesture during the job interview, which I will write about, as the case may be, next time.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 at 00:00 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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