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Elizabeth Fuss Arnott, SPHR  I have been working in Human Resources for 23 years. Since 2011, I have been certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).  I have a BA in English and a Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane Law School. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband Luke and our cat, Poirot. I write about HR, non-profits, the art of managing people and Neurodiversity in the workplace. I'm available for employment, contract work, consulting, coaching and training virtually and in the Portland, OR area. Please email me at for more information. 

  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Arnott, SPHR

Leading with Heart: Caring About Your People

In order to lead with heart, connect with your employees and build success, you must be a leader who genuinely cares about your people. What does that look like?

Let me give you a few practical examples:

The Call-Out: When an employee calls out sick, a leader with heart (LWH) shows that they care more about the person than the work. The LWH expresses empathy and support for the employee, asks the employee if they need anything, communicates that they will be missed and that they are looking forward to the employee returning to work. In private, the LWH worries about the work getting done with a short-staffed team, comes up with a plan, presents it to their team, rallying everyone together. Employees notice that the leader is supportive of the sick employee, and also that the leader is confident in their team being able to do the jobs they were hired to do. When the employee returns, the LWH greets them with a genuine expression of happiness that the employee is better.

Result: Employees on the team know that their leader values them as people, not just as cogs in a wheel. They are less likely to call-out for dishonest reasons and more likely to do their best work for their LWH.

The Mistake: An employee makes a mistake that is time-consuming to fix. A LWH does not erupt in anger, but instead recognizes this as an opportunity to help this employee grow. The LWH calmly asks the employee what happened, talks through solutions and helps the employee devise a plan to fix it. The LWH may reassure the employee that it's okay to make mistakes, because we can learn from them. Even when it's a repeated mistake, a LWH will hold the employee accountable in a calm manner, focusing on the work issues, telling the employee that they believe in them, and setting them up for success by providing the tools and feedback needed. We've all made mistakes. Even great leaders have made mistakes. People rise above and learn when they are in an environment that encourages growth instead of anger.

Result: Employees are more likely to share their mistakes and issues with leaders when they are not afraid of the consequences, which will help you to be aware of what is happening on your team and address the bigger picture issues before they spread or cause more problems.

Giving Feedback: A LWH does not shy away from giving feedback to their people, whether positive or negative. A LWH does not believe that giving feedback is mean or personal, so when they approach the employee, it is simply an opportunity for the employee to learn. Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia, states it like this: "We need to understand that feedback is a gift. Feedback is an act of caring." If you care about your employees, you will give them the gift of feedback regularly - both positive and negative. Help them be better. Help them shine.

Result: Employees know where they stand with their LWH and in their job They will continuously improve and strive to do better. They will be more likely to trust their leader and do their best.


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