Organisational leadership primarily evokes a mixed bag of sentiments from the workforce. On the one hand, employees depend on leaders for direction, support, and resources to do their best work. On the other end of the spectrum, employees have left their jobs due to poor leadership.
Leadership matters at any time (regardless of a pandemic), as decision-makers provide an ordered structure in realising organisational goals and perspectives. While modern employees seek autonomy, leaders still oversee the fundamental direction of an organisation – and their roles will continue to grow in importance with the increasingly demanding workplace.
Inspire the Workforce
A great leader functions like a formidable general, rallying troops towards a common cause. Rather than simply handing out paychecks or offering material incentives, leaders go further by promoting a shared vision that encourages workers to optimise their performance. An engaged workforce with high morale will likely outperform competing organisations with poor leadership.
Some practical ways to inspire employees include a combination of staff benefits (i.e., casual Fridays), regular training opportunities, and constructive feedback.
Rosell Rogers, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Circa (a workforce development company), shares, “The importance of employee motivation cannot be down-played. Ultimately when employees are motivated this increases productivity, lowers turnover, and improves overall performance.”
Plan and Make Necessary Arrangements
The most effective leaders will help provide employees with the tools, equipment, and software required to thrive in their roles. They are the ones who give the final green light when adopting the latest cloud systems or AI technology or sending workers for cyber hygiene courses.
Successful leaders will start open conversations with their employees, gathering precious information and feedback to acquire the most suitable solutions to empower teams towards achieving their highest potential.
Mark Whitten, director of operations for Martinrea International, a leading automotive supplier, undertook a year-long journey to understand the perspectives and priorities of his staff. Within the year, Whitten interacted with his employees through a series of one-to-one sessions where he provided an outlet for mutual and sincere communication.
Whitten applied a specific script and limited his talking to engage in a fair active listening approach. Through the approach, Whitten gained newfound respect and appreciation for his employees, which resulted in improved connections.
Employee surveys proved the effectiveness of Whitten’s efforts, with a 12% rise in positive response since he began the initiative. Subsequently, the company saw $200 million worth of new businesses, received a supplier award, and improved customer quality performance.
Whitten achieved significant improvements in organisational performance through the power of candid conversations that helped him align his company strategies with the needs of the staff.
Fuel Continuous Learning
Lifelong learning is necessary for keeping employees inspired and efficient in their roles. A successful organisational leader promotes training and development by offering the most relevant courses and sharing the opportunities and benefits of learning.
The pursuit of lifelong learning transcends job-based skills development, tapping on a wide variety of online and on-premise educational outlets that stimulate problem-solving, creativity, and other soft skills that keep workers efficient and motivated.
Leaders can further catalyze their employees’ learning and development journey by creating an experimental environment that encourages individuals to emerge from their comfort zones. Through experimentation, employees will feel confident in innovating new ideas and frequently testing them out.
As such, lifelong learning at the workplace requires leaders to oversee a safety culture, where employees can openly share their opinions, doubts, and fears, without fear of repercussions.
Be the Pillar During Unforeseen Crises
Employees turn to their leaders during VUCA (vague, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) situations, such as the pandemic. As leaders embody the values and state of an organisation, workers seek reaffirmation and confidence from decision-makers to stay focused and committed in their roles.
An effective organisational leader maintains transparent communication with teams, offering the latest updates and company status as soon as possible.
There are two main reasons for this: A) It prevents workers from formulating inaccurate guesses and theories, leading to panic and further miscommunication. B) Consistent communication enables leaders to collaborate closely with workers towards coming up with a response strategy.
Essentially, a leader helps organisations stay focused on company priorities to reduce the impact of disruptions. While employees may face doubt and uncertainty during unprecedented times, it is up to leaders to have them seen, heard, and assured.
Rally Action and Inaction
A successful organisation accepts that change is a constant that will continuously affect communities and markets in unpredictable ways.
Employees may desire change, but ultimately, leaders are the ones with access to the connections and resources to realise or hold back on those changes.
Leaders should be vigilant of the latest trends and movements and always think proactively. Organisational leaders may advocate a similar mindset among workers by encouraging complete ownership of their roles and duties and improving processes based on sound judgement.
In marketing, there’s a term known as “first-mover advantage,” referring to the benefits of being the first company to introduce a product or service to the market. A first-mover advantage enables companies to establish standards and protocols for being first on the scene. However, it comes with the risk of later entrants taking advantage of first-mover mistakes.
The first-mover advantage applies to any critical decision made by a leader. Sometimes quick responses may seem like the obvious best choice, but some prudence in observing the environment may yield improved long-term results.
Closing Thoughts on Leadership Matters
Organisational leadership will remain relevant as long as teams are working toward a common goal. However, on that note, leadership is evolving with the times. Rather than searching for the latest “leadership template,” it’s more practical to adopt an agile leadership method that remains effective despite immediate challenges and considerations.
Leaders can achieve this by concentrating on the two pillars in every successful leadership method – prioritising quality relationships (i.e., customers and employees) and leveraging learning and technology.
StrengthsAsia has helped many individuals and corporate clients empower leaders throughout the region by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you wish to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, please reach out to us here.