I have always loved that song. And yes, the world still desperately needs love, but what has become abundantly clear over the past few months is that it also needs leadership.
We have become a society operating on decisions based on fear and greed. While existing for important reasons, these two emotions can be destructive when left unchecked. We have seen an increase in rushes to judgment and a decrease in understanding and empathy. Over the past three months, we have seen the negative effects of decisions and actions based on these emotions in government, education, healthcare, the economy, city streets, even in the grocery store, leaving us all feeling a bit unsettled. And there is arguably no better way to get some stability back into our lives than through leadership.
Now, you may be thinking—I am not a CEO or principal of a school or coach of a team, so this probably doesn’t apply to me. However, I promise you that this concern would be misplaced. If you take a step back and think about it, we are all leaders in some aspects of our lives. I like to call it the “Leadership of Life.”
Welcome to my new blog! My name is Teresa Meares and I am the founder of TM Consulting, where I assist organizations and businesses in the development and execution of growth and multi‐level project strategies. Like most of you, I have assumed many roles over the course of my life. I have extensive backgrounds in both law enforcement and entrepreneurship, and I am also a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. I proudly serve my community and volunteer for various business organizations throughout the world. Each of these roles requires extensive communication, interaction, effort, and energy. Essentially, they require leadership.
Leadership, no matter what your role or title (or lack thereof), is based on balance, the utilization of specific traits, and being aware of the emotions that drive us all. As leaders, we have the power and the responsibility to propel others forward. But, we also have the power to stop them in their tracks if we are not careful. Effective leadership is about harnessing that power through crucial traits to help identify the emotion behind someone’s decision or action and then connect with them on that level. It is only once we are in this place that we can truly understand and help. And I, for one, am a firm believer that, while we may have different backgrounds, opinions, and experiences, we are all on this earth to support each other.
I recently wrote a book titled One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions. It is for those people who are in any position of influence, either through personal, professional, or volunteer relationships. The book provides a new answer to an old question—What inherently sets us apart as effective leaders?
Through various life experiences that shaped me into the person I am today, I have learned valuable lessons. And my hope is that everyone reading this has had those types of experiences, where you emerge with a little more knowledge and understanding of yourself and others. The fundamental value I took from these lessons is the ability to recognize that emotions are intrinsically linked to various situations and challenges. If we connect certain traits to the emotion evoked, we can find a clear path to a resolution and to leadership. Ultimately, what I found through these varied experiences is that effective leadership is based on four traits—Confidence, Authenticity, Responsibility, and Empathy.
Be confident in who you are and in what makes you uniquely you, including both your strengths and weaknesses. We all have something to offer. Have confidence that you can handle any situation that comes your way. Confidence will build trust and inspire others.
Be genuine when you speak and interact with others. They can see who is real and who is not. Being raw and natural leads to connection and opens the space for incredible things to happen. Authenticity will build solid relationships.
Be responsible for your decisions and actions. Acknowledge that what you do will have a direct effect on others. Do not place blame or find fault when things go wrong. Rather, determine how you could have helped or prevented a miscommunication. Responsibility will build ownership.
Be empathetic with others. Understand that no one is alone, that everyone struggles, and that everyone has a story. Be cognizant of the similarities, and less focused on the differences, before you act. Empathy will build connections.
To me, it is no coincidence that these traits create the acronym C.A.R.E. because at the end of the day, isn’t caring what it all comes down to? Along with a clear understanding of our own emotions and those of others, these traits can be used to help us navigate through our professional and personal communications and relationships. They help us understand not only when we are acting out of fear and greed ourselves, but also when others are. When we care enough to work through theses emotions, we can create a productive path on which to move forward.
While each situation is unique, requiring different traits to steer it to a better place, there is one commonality—our reaction to the emotions involved in any situation is what can separate a positive outcome from a negative one. Whether the situation involves your business, career, family, or other personal circumstances, using the C.A.R.E. method will help you undergo an essential shift. This shift is not always easy, but it is necessary. We must stop looking merely at a person’s outward appearance and actions, and start looking at their emotional state to better understand those actions. Stepping outside of our own emotional home to take the time and the energy to do so is ultimately the shift we must all make.
I urge you to look at your circumstances and situations with C.A.R.E. as much as you can. Are you being Confident? Are you being Authentic? Are you taking Responsibility for your actions? Are you showing Empathy? Sometimes, the answer may be no and that’s okay, as long as there are many more yeses. We are human, of course, and it is unrealistic to think we can act with C.A.R.E. every second of every day. My goal is 95% of the time instead. Just imagine our daily interactions if we could strive to act with C.A.R.E. that much. We would be unstoppable! But remember, 5% is a small amount, so we should use it wisely.
One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions began a dialogue to connect with others and to inspire us all to lead with Confidence, Authenticity, Responsibility, and Empathy. This blog will continue that conversation through specific examples based on both traditional and non-traditional leadership scenarios. We will work through challenges using the C.A.R.E. method of leadership and demonstrate the varying consequences when we use it . . . and when we don’t. Some scenarios may require one of the traits, others may involve all of them, depending on what is uniquely needed at that time.
I also want to hear from you. A conversation with one person is just not as fun! I encourage you to share your feedback and comments and to ask questions. My hope is that we can collaborate and motivate each other to lead—with our heads and our hearts.
Until next time, please take C.A.R.E. of yourself and those around you in as many ways as possible.