One of the best communication and leadership tips I can give you to help navigate this crazy time is this: Lead with warmth.

One of the best communication and leadership tips I can give you to help navigate this crazy time is this: Lead with warmth.

By warmth, I mean kindness, compassion and empathy.

Why?

Because warmth conveys our underlying intention.

It shows the people receiving our communication that we care about them and have their interests at heart – even if the message we’re delivering is difficult to hear.

Warmth builds trust and respect, and if someone respects us, they are more likely to respond well to our instructions, cooperate, and do good work despite the stress they face.

Warmth also supports our team’s mental health, which is crucial in this environment.

So, how can we incorporate warmth into our communication? Here are seven tips:

  • Check in regularly to see how your people are travelling. Show genuine interest in their welfare. It’s not about work, it’s about them as a human.
  • Listen – really listen – both to what is said and more importantly, what’s unsaid.
  • Acknowledge their feelings and concerns; don’t minimise or dismiss them. Meet people where they are and allow them to be seen and heard.
  • Share something personal and show vulnerability to demonstrate your own humanity. Acknowledge your own feelings and challenges (but don’t fall into the trap of ‘one-upmanship’). This is a difficult time for everybody.
  • Use video. Don’t hide behind a phone or email. So much of communication is body language and tone, so turn on your camera and let people see you, and have your team do the same. This will also give you a better read on how your people are really coping.
  • Speak with a calm tone and lower pitch – the style you would use if comforting or confiding in a friend. This can help lower another person’s stress level, as well as your own. 
  • Smile (and mean it). Yes, we’re going through a horrendous time and it’s absolutely ok to not be ok, but even in darkness, there is a place for smiling. As a leader, you can give this gift to your team. Smile, simply because you’re happy to see them (via video!). A smile generates immediate warmth and is not something you can fake successfully. A genuine smile will see the corners of your mouth rise towards your eyes. A fake smile will see your mouth stretch out towards your ears.

So there you have it; some simple and practical tips that will have a powerful impact on your team, now more than ever.

For more information on the importance of leading with warmth, check out this brilliant article ‘Connect, Then Lead’ from Harvard Business Review.

Stay safe and healthy, and remember to always choose kind.