“Relationships are like bank accounts – you make deposits and you make withdrawals, but you never want to overdraw your account,” said HRD Thought Leader Chuck Heaton, recounting a conversation with one of his first bosses that took place over 20 years ago.
This is a mantra that remains at the forefront of his approach to leadership style today, he says.
More specifically, what Heaton is referring to here is the idea of leading with care, compassion and humanity. Think of ‘deposits’ as kind, positive gestures, and ‘withdrawals’ as instances where a sterner tone is required. When someone strikes a fine balance between two things, they’re successfully maintaining a healthy relationship.
Heaton argues that this leadership style must be implemented in the world of business, and that as a result, managers will approach their interactions with team members in a more measured, empathetic manner.
However, he posits that in order to do this, a few key steps are required:
- Listening – whether it’s simply allowing someone to speak freely, or honing in on certain details to later use as talking points, this is a basic but vital component of all interactions
- Showing your human side – this will allow leaders to establish an air of vulnerability (and thus, psychological safety) in the eyes of the employee, allowing the two parties to feel equal
- Identifying commonalities – a potential by-product of step #1, this is a component that will allow a manager-employee relationship to flourish in the same way you’d expect an every-day friendship to.
In this video essay, Heaton outlines the above points in much greater detail, giving real-life examples and recounting personal experiences to exemplify each. Furthermore, he goes on to outline how this can go one step further from benefiting the employee, and bolster the health of the organisation on a wider scale.