Global challenges over recent years demand a new style of leadership. The rise of virtual working and high-trust cultures has accelerated the requirement for talented communicators and visionaries with empathetic traits that can create inclusive environments, empower, and motivate talent to new productive heights even in tough times. Those companies that prize leaders such as this and nurture and retain this kind of talent are setting themselves up to succeed in the years to come.
Adapt to lead the way
Following many recent conversations with leaders and managers, it is evident that they are having to adapt and improve their leadership and management styles to keep with the times. They have learned more than ever before to connect with people in a more personal way and learn about the individual and what drives them, rather than employing a single methodology. They are also teaching themselves to apply different learning styles and with this, gaining huge respect amongst their teams and peers. Great leaders are now using coaching models to shape future leaders rather than giving them the answers (or telling them what to do). This yields fantastic results, empowering the individual and teaching leaders how to best retain their staff.
"Great leaders create more leaders, not followers. Great leaders have vision, share vision, and inspire others to create their own." Roy T. Bennett
Being a good leader is hard.
According to a study by global analytics firm, Gallup, 75 % of employees leave a role partly due to their boss. People don't quit a job, as the saying goes, they quit a boss. additionally, further research from the same group found that only 10 % of people have the natural traits of great leaders, but that others can certainly develop the qualities required to become one.
Great leadership for great business
Why is great leadership so important? With competition for talent at an all-time high and new companies establishing themselves weekly, talent retention and organic growth are becoming the most important focal points of any successful company today. The most successful way to compete in this environment is to upskill the leadership team, especially given what we know about the close link between staff turnover and perception of the company leadership. With great leadership comes better, more empowered talent, improved culture, and a competitive edge.
The big picture for securing talent
A company's culture and leadership team are huge motivators for accepting a role. Jones Reynolds is a recruitment company seeking to deeply understand clients and candidates to better represent them, but also match them. A companies' culture, staff retention and empowerment, and the quality of the leadership are hugely important to any candidate considering an opportunity.
It should be no surprise that we frequently see top talent choosing companies that exceed in these areas, despite the companies not being able to match the salary or overall package on offer compared with an alternative prospective employer. In these cases, companies have been able to successfully translate their vision, passion, and belief in their culture and identity, alongside delivering a flattering recruitment process.
Over the past two years especially, this has become an even greater consideration for talent. Salary is certainly important up to a point, but beyond which, other factors become more important.
As discussed, leadership is hard and only a small proportion of people have the natural qualities to be a good one. However, any leader can develop into a great one. The following are some of what we feel are the most important qualities:
Supporting the team and understanding them individually by showing authentic interest to better appreciate how they feel is vital. A recent article by Forbes suggests empathetic leadership is the most valuable skill. Empathy inspires trust, communication and helps empower individuals.
Performance reviews should not just be about future goal setting and acknowledgment of targets hit. A review should be an environment where an employee should feel encouraged to be open with their leaders. A leader needs to be able to demonstrate the ability to actively listen to their team, show understanding, and follow up on agreed plans. This will also ensure the leader understands how to get the best out of the individual.
Some considerations during these reviews:
- Is the job still interesting/challenging?
- Can additional responsibilities be given?
- What would they like to do? How would they like to grow?
- Is there additional training that can be provided in areas that will upskill?
- Is there an opportunity for advancement and/or growth?
Bear in mind that one-size-fits-all retention policies within companies are proven to be unsuccessful, especially when considering a properly diverse workforce. Instead, companies should focus on motivations and mindset, and employee experience. Reviews and the quality of the information within them are serious metrics. This is where the employee should be heard and express their ambitions and motivations.
2. Driver and communicator of the vision
Strong leaders should have the company vision and team vision constantly in the back of their mind and should be continuously evaluating objectives and ensuring steps are taken to achieve them by leading the way and being results orientated. A strong leader also communicates this effectively to everyone in the team and delegates responsibilities to ensure the team collectively achieves the results, usually with a focus on individual strengths and maximising productivity.
3. Encouraging innovation
Great leaders should encourage different perspectives and people should feel empowered to be able to express their ideas, concerns, and solutions. This ensures that the 'way forward' has been measured based on unique perspectives and avoids bias. Additionally, it encourages working methods to be reviewed and improved upon, thus maximising efficiency.
4. Be a coach
Great leaders train employees on how to process problems and provide effective solutions themselves by helping them with their thought processes. Just because one has the answer through extensive experience does not always mean they should provide it. This encourages finding the answers themselves, and whilst a coaching method may take more time initially, a leader will gain this time back with the individual later. We have all heard the saying 'Give someone a fish, you feed them for a day, teach someone to fish they will eat for a lifetime.
A good method to use when coaching through a problem is the GROW method:
- What is the G oal?
- What is the current R eality?
- What are the O ptions available?
- What is the W ay forward?
Remember: no matter how experienced one becomes in life; life will still find a way to present problems. Leaders will have problems of their own and they might be at a level where they are expected to provide the solutions with few to guide them. It is important to empower and coach those beneath how to do the same. This leads us nicely to our 5th quality.
5. Effective problem solver
Great leaders should be effective problem solvers. Problem-solving requires a broad set of skills, including the ability to analyse information to identify the problem itself; creativity, open-mindedness, and logic to generate solutions; perseverance to execute solutions, and resilience and humility to assess the success of a solution and adjust as required. All the preceding qualities work in harmony to enhance the likelihood of making great decisions. To solve a problem, the leader will:
- Identify, and question
- Gather information and perspectives from an innovative, empowered group seeking multiple unique perspectives and weigh out options
- Maintain sight of vision and objectives
- Decide the course
- Review results objectively and adapt if required
There are many qualities that make for great leadership, but we feel that companies investing in, and practicing the above qualities consistently will ensure themselves an upskilled workforce, increased staff retention, and improved innovation.
Leaders who create more leaders expand their ability to create results with less direct input, increasing the likelihood of company success in what is certain to be exciting, but challenging times ahead.