Supportive leadership helps to build and maintain effective interpersonal relationships. A manager who is considerate and friendly toward people is more likely to win their friendship and loyalty. The emotional ties that are formed make it easier to gain cooperation and support from people on whom the manager must rely to get the work done. It is more satisfying to work with someone who is friendly, cooperative, and supportive than with someone who is cold and impersonal, or worse, hostile and uncooperative. (Yukl, 2010)
If you practice supportive leadership, your people will likely be more satisfied with you and with their jobs. That’s important given the new research that shows the relationship between pay and job satisfaction is very weak. The research on the relationship between supportive leadership and employee performance is not well established, but there is some evidence suggesting that supportive leadership can enhance performance. An exceptional recent study showed that organizational support affects employee engagement and ultimately performance.
Here are nine behaviors that supportive leaders should work on (Yukl, 2010):
1. Show acceptance and positive regard for others.
2. Be polite and considerate, not arrogant and rude.
3. Treat each employee as an individual.
4. Remember important details about the person (like their name!).
5. Be patient and helpful when giving instructions or explanations.
6. Provide sympathy and support when the person is anxious or upset.
7. Express confidence in the person when there is a difficult task.
8. Provide assistance with the work when it is needed.
9. Be willing to help with personal problems.
Check your motives before you begin work on your supportive behaviors. There is no substitute for genuine caring, and over time it’s easy to tell who really does and does not care about us. If your employees sense your sincerity, they will respond better to your support. If they smell a rat, your supportive behaviors could backfire.
Are there any other supportive behaviors you would add to this list? If so, please leave your comment below!