Should leaders care about Valentine’s Day?
(Or, is it just another opportunity created by the greeting card industry?)
You may think this is an odd question, perhaps one that doesn’t even warrant a fleeting thought. But it’s more pertinent than you may have first thought, and here’s why.
A leader’s job is to deliver the results we’re accountable for and to look after the people we have the privilege and responsibility to lead.
Let’s consider the fact that every single person we lead is the most important person in someone else’s life. We can now start to understand the impact we have.
Our behaviour doesn’t just affect those that work for us while they are at work; it has an impact on them when they go home. And that will affect their loved ones too.
Impact vs. Intention
The best leaders amongst us are always mindful of ensuring that our impact matches our intentions.
This Valentine’s Day, some people in our teams will expect to spend quality time with their nearest and dearest, which we could very easily spoil.
That piece of ill-considered and poorly timed feedback could play on their mind all evening while sitting with their partner for a romantic dinner…could spoil things.
The arbitrary and irrelevant deadline we attached to a piece of work could cause them to get home late for the candle-lit dinner their partner lovingly prepared…could spoil things.
The request to stay late at the office or travel for a team meeting could cause tension at home and spoil some Valentines’ plans
Does this mean we need to avoid making any business plans on the 14th of February just in case it impacts those we lead and their social lives? Absolutely not.
Does this post – and Valentine’s Day – serve as a timely reminder that as leaders, we are responsible for other human beings with hugely complex lives?
Knowing Your Team
While some people will be making unique plans on Valentine’s Day, there are others who won’t.
For some people, it may be a particularly sad time of year. For example, it could be the first Valentine’s Day since a break-up or bereavement, which is something we would want to be mindful of as leaders.
But surely, I can’t be expected to know everything about everyone in my team and adjust my behaviour to cater to their unique needs?
Well, no…and yes.
It’s not our job to know everything about those we lead, and most people certainly won’t want us to know everything about them.
But it is our job to know those that we lead.
Because the better we know them, the better we can support them.
And the better we can support them, the better they will perform in their role.
So, should we care about Valentine’s Day as leaders?
I believe we should. Because if we don’t, it will impact our leadership brand.
Our brand – what people say about us as a leader – is made of people’s most recent and most extreme experiences of us.
Suppose the most recent experience is of us spoiling Valentine’s Day and upsetting their other half. If that is the case, it will take some time and effort to rebuild their trust in us.