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  • Writer's picturePaul DeChant MD, MBA

How You Lead Impacts Those You Lead

Do you have people who report up to you?

How responsible do you feel for your people's well-being?

According to a new study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, you are deeply responsible for the well-being of those who report up to you. A team of researchers led by Dr. Lotte Dyrbye demonstrated a significant correlation between leadership behaviors and burnout in Mayo Clinic employees.

They conducted a survey of nearly 40,000 staff members. For each 1-point increase in leadership score of the staff member's immediate supervisor, the staff member's burnout score decreased by 7% and satisfaction increased by 11%.

Seven Leadership Qualities That Improve Staff Satisfaction

If you are working to improve staff satisfaction at any level in your organization, investments in developing your leaders, from the C-suite to front line supervisors, are the best investments you can make.

It's not that complicated. The seven leadership qualities that matter are stated as follows. My immediate supervisor:

  • holds career development conversations with me

  • empowers me to do my job

  • encourages employees to suggest ideas for improvement

  • provides helpful feedback and coaching on my performance

  • recognizes me for a job well done

  • keeps me informed about changes taking place at my organization

  • encourages me to develop my talent and skills

Basically it comes down to this - when leaders respect and care for their people, their people are more satisfied and better engaged. Pretty simple, don't you think?

How Do You Show Your Employees that You Care About Them?

Why are burnout and dissatisfaction so significant in modern work life? Do leaders really not care about those they lead?

In my executive coaching I see three types of leaders:

  1. Those who care about their direct reports and know how what to do so that their reports know they care,

  2. Those that care but don't know what to do so that their reports know they care, and

  3. Those (fortunately relatively few) that truly don't care.

The thing is, groups 2 and 3 can both create the toxic work environments that drive burnout. With group 3, there is little hope for a different outcome. For group 2, there is great hope!

Are You a Leader of Leaders?

If your direct reports have direct reports of their own, congratulations! You have both an opportunity, and a responsibility, to have a significant impact. And it's not that hard.

Follow these five steps to develop those leaders who report up to you.

  1. Incorporate the seven qualities into their performance evaluations

  2. Talk to your people regularly about how they are doing on the seven qualities

  3. Ask them about barriers and frustrations they have with incorporating the qualities into work with their own direct reports

  4. Hold a session with your team to garner their ideas to empower them to incorporate the qualities more effectively into their work

  5. Finally, lead by example. Incorporate the seven qualities into the way you work with your own direct reports.

This Is Your Opportunity

You can make a difference in the lives of those you work with. I'd like to say that it's not that hard, but the reality is, even with the straightforward road map that I've laid out here, there are always challenges to getting from where you are to where you want to be.

It won't be a straight and smooth path. You'll get knocked off course frequently. Just look at what the Corona virus pandemic has done to all of us!

Keep your eyes on your goal. when you get knocked off course, return to the basics described above. You will keep getting closer, keep improving your leadership, and reduce burnout in your people.

This will lead to better patient care, a better workplace for everyone, and better lives outside work as well. You have the power. Will you use it?

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