To have a seat in the corner office and delegate tasks with deadlines is the most commonly perceived image of a boss/leader. The strange thing is that some authority figures do believe that to be true and have accepted it as part of their work culture. This is mainly because they have come up the ranks in organizations where their seniors also followed the same attitude.
But there is much more to effective leadership than this. Effective leaders can have crucial impacts on not only their team members, but their company as a whole. People who work with great leaders tend to be happier, more productive, and more connected to their organization.
More connection leads to a series of ripple effects that reach the business bottom line. If you look around and see that your team members have become disengaged or stagnant in their work, it may be high time to reassess and reorient your leadership strategies.
Give People Real Purpose
Leaders can have a significant impact on company culture. They are the ones to traditionally set the agenda, prioritize work, manage workflow, and delegate.
Influential leaders focus less on organizing, and more on providing a sense of vision, purpose, mentorship, and are a consistent source of inspiration to others by setting the example.
One often unspoken about aspect of the corporate work environment is that employees are motivated by a variety of factors that likely transcend the transactional nature of “you do work = I give money.”
Those factors may not be the same for everyone. What is essential to some people could be meaningless to others.
“We are all united as people by the desire and yearning for a sense of purpose and meaning.”
Considering we spend most of our adult lives at our jobs, this is a particularly significant issue for all of us. Waking up day after day without a connection to our work, that doesn’t go beyond the transactional relationship of a paycheck, is demoralizing and unsustainable.
Here are some small ideas that can help develop in people a feeling that they are important to the organization by embracing their own strengths:
1. Let people do self-assessments and choose tasks based on their unique strengths. It will lead to greater results and allow people to thrive at work.
2. Support people on how to effectively make use of their strengths, which will lead to a measurable positive outcome for the company. Transparently share appropriate key performance indicators and revenue reports.
3. Enable peer reviews of strengths in regular performance conversations, and quarterly/annual reviews that are designed and lead by the employee instead of top-down. This will help them identify the areas they need to work on from peer feedback.
4. Provide events and opportunities to socialize. Happy hours, catered lunches, company sports teams, or celebratory events commemorating achievements are all great and viable options. Don’t use these as perks, use these as conscious opportunities to develop team intimacy.
5. Cultivate a “we’re all in this together” attitude by encouraging an all hands-on deck approach to work, especially when the work seems to be getting tough. Reward those who go above and beyond to assist their peers by promoting this attitude further.
“People who find their work meaningful are happy, better engaged, and able to deliver exceptional results for the business.”
Whether employees make meaningful connections through the satisfaction of using their unique talents at work or support their coworkers and teammates — it is always worthwhile.
Develop a Sense of Belonging
When people enter a new organization, they always wonder whether they will belong, and often struggle to find their voice. Many experience anxieties on whether there is a place for them in the company to feel welcomed, safe, respected, and valued.
Some studies have shown that feeling a sense of belonging in the workplace leads to more than just good vibes and friendships. Belonging is what ensures people to feel like they can be their authentic selves without fear of different treatment or punishment, and it has a significant impact on performance and retention.
“Belonging is the crucial piece of the puzzle to building highly engaged cultures, leading to better collaboration and problem-solving.”
If it’s so important, why do so many companies fail to provide the sense of belongingness?
They simply don’t pay enough attention to the people. It starts with referring to people as assets, resources, human capital, and even employees — as if people are a “piece of equipment you employ.”
Empathy is the foundation of our life. Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding how their feelings affect their behavior and motivation. Research shows that compassion is positively connected to job performance.
Managers or leaders who show more empathy receive consistently higher job performance ratings from their teams. Not everyone is naturally empathic considering the society we are living in. However, it can be learned and developed through coaching, training, or developmental opportunities and initiatives.
“To care for your team is the best support you can provide”
Similarly, developing engagement through two-way communication ensures people are both listened to and kept in the loop with what is happening in the company. Ensuring that existing communication channels are used, or new ones are created to encourage dialogue, makes people feel that they matter.
When people get quick feedback, they know their ideas are valued, which makes them more committed to their job.
Let People Create Impact
There is constant pressure on organizations to be more competitive, and leaders need to have the right skills to influence employees’ innovative aptitude. What can be increasingly tough for leaders is keeping their teams motivated.
A common trend among younger workers is switching jobs, and this has become a severe issue in the modern workplace. Millennials are often criticized the most for being unattached to their organizations and their willingness to move from one job to another.
This isn’t a millennial issue, the reality is that no one wants to settle for less, and if we don’t get what we need and expect from our workplace, we will be more than happy to leave for a better opportunity. It creates a challenge for leaders who need to be innovative to motivate and retain this mobile ready workforce.
“To motivate people, one first needs to understand what drives them.”
During the hiring process, leaders can ask more profound questions to get a better sense of the strategies and methods they could use to help motivate and accelerate people’s performance on their own terms.
What is missing for most people at work is the freedom of choice. At times they are all expected to finish the job conventionally, and their ideas and new approaches are not given any attention.
This fixed mindset makes people hesitant to come forward in the future with innovation, while going through the same mundane processes hampers their productivity. It’s counterproductive.
When people are not recognized for their innovative methods and ideology, they try to find a more suitable atmosphere elsewhere, and that is the reason they keep switching jobs frequently.
A good leader needs to understand and respect people’s thought process and give them ample space to experiment in the workplace. With proper guidance and support, people will feel appreciated and enthusiastically engaged in delivering better results.
When people become a part of shaping the organization, they come to know that they are creating an impact with their work. This enables constituting a strong and close-knit team.
Good leaders are responsible for the success of the team as well as the success of each team member. An effective team leader must understand each member’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals and let each person thrive accordingly, on their own terms.
One must not forget that being a good leader takes time and genuine efforts. Although some individuals are naturally inclined to have excellent leadership skills, it is certainly something anyone can learn and improve upon.
With consistent hard work, dedication, and innovative strategic planning, you can lead your team to be highly engaged and more successful.