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Why Leadership Is So Important?
A company’s most valuable asset is its people. One of the best ways to support your company is to empower your people through effective leadership. Leaders need to develop many skills such as technical, administrative, planning, and people skills. While our society tends to value and reward analytical skills, it’s the softer, people skills that truly enhances team performance.
Even though topics such as employee engagement, corporate culture and communication are considered “soft” skills, their impact on the profitability of a company is significant and measurable.
“Companies with engaged employees vs. competitors with low engagement levels enjoy 2.5X more revenue growth.”
Research shows that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share.
“86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.”
The Fallout From a Lack of Leadership
"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency."
~ Arnold Glasow
Leadership is about looking ahead, spotting obstacles and being proactive so that you can chose a course of action instead of simply reacting in the moment when the obstacles become unavoidable. It’s important not to wait for shrinking profits or rising employee turnover to signal that it is time to make a change.
"97% of employees and executives believe a lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project."
When a team is out of alignment, there are a variety of symptoms, including:
- Inefficient decision making
- Unfocused and unneeded meetings
- Lack of communication within and between teams
- Confusion about roles and responsibility
- “Sleepwalking” employees who are apathetic about their work
- Secrecy and a lack of transparency when sharing information
- Disempowered employees who take little action without manager instruction
The responsibility for avoiding the above challenges rests with leadership. The challenge is that there are often systemic and individual barriers to leadership engagement and communication.
According to research from Interact, 37% of the managers said that they are uncomfortable giving direct feedback about performance if they believe the employee might respond badly. And it's not just a reluctance to give feedback, they also found that 69% of managers said they are often uncomfortable communicating with employees. Think about that, almost 2/3 of managers are uncomfortable with even communicating with their team!
The solution to this problem is not just more discussion about the need for engagement, but a shift in culture and development of the leadership team to encourage communication and change.
To truly become effective, a leader must develop their skills in three areas:
Many leaders know what to do but are not doing it. The reason they're not taking action and following-through are often mental and emotional blocks such as negative emotions and limiting beliefs.
The Need For An Engaged Workforce
One of the roles of a leader is to build an enthusiastic team that is passionate and motivated. A team that is engaged with their work, each other and their company. Research compiled by Villanova University found that organizations with engaged employees outperform their unengaged competitors by up to 202%.
Unfortunately, according to Gallup, most leaders are struggling to build dedicated, energetic teams.
70% of workers in the U.S. are either not engaged or actively disengaged
The cost of that disengagement for U.S. Companies is estimated between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year.
Beyond a Loss of Productivity
Employee turnover is not only a headache, it’s also costly to your organization. The loss of talent and the knowledge drain that occurs when people leave an organization is a significant cultural and financial loss for an organization. According to the Work Institute...
It costs up to 33% of an employee’s annual salary to hire their replacement.
In contrast, research compiled by Villanova University found that highly engaged workers are 87% less likely to leave their current organization.
Tips for Creating Engagement
1. Take the time to listenEmployees feel more valued and engaged when they believe that they are heard and understood.
2. Be clear about expectations
A lack of clear direction is a sure way to stifle employee enthusiasm. Meet with your team regularly, establish clear outcomes and direction and follow-up with team members to ensure that they are overcoming obstacles.
3. Communicate more, not less
Employees crave inspiration, recognition and information, so make sure that quality communication is part of your culture. For important, one-on-one conversations, check out my ebook, The Conversation Formula.
4. Encourage teamwork
Create opportunities for employees to work together and reward effective team efforts. Use the Lead Breeds Report to promote effective communication between team members.
5. Become a coach leader
Employees needs ongoing guidance, appreciation and course correction, so be sure provide it on a regular basis. Remember that not all feedback is created equal. The purpose of feedback is to change future behavior. One way to minimize resistance to feedback and help the recipient to incorporate constructive feedback is to focus on the future rather than the past. Most feedback is past-focused which tends to end up with the recipient justifying their behaviors. If you focus on what can be done in the future, you can reduce resistance and maximize the possibility of them incorporating the feedback.
6. Develop leaders on your team
Give employees a say in the work they do and/or how they do it. Also, be sure to provide training when necessary so that employees have the skills they need in order to be successful.
The Value of Mindset & Culture
A leader’s success, as well as the success of their organization, is dependent on their ability to adapt to a changing environment. A company’s flexibility is determined largely by their culture. For an individual, it’s their mindset.
We all know that flexibility is important. We live in a time of accelerated change. Those who adapt and evolve are able to thrive. Those who aren’t able to adapt struggle. Even though we know how important it is to be flexible, the problem is that we’re hardwired to crave certainty.
Where A Need for Certainty Comes From
If you think about the first few levels Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: Survival Needs, Safety Needs, and Belonging Needs, the core of these is a drive for certainty. If we have these needs met, we feel safe and secure. If these needs aren’t met, everything else in our lives gets put on the back burner while we seek to re-establish a feeling of certainty. Given the need for certainty, the question is...
How do you create a culture of adaptability?
While it is true that we need certainty, we also value uncertainty or variety. The lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy are referred to as deficit needs which means they are only relevant to us when they are deficient or threatened.
If you have enough certainty, then you crave uncertainty or variety. If you have too much uncertainty, you start to crave certainty. It’s about creating a balance and counter-intuitively cultivating the opposite.
If you want flexibility and adaptiveness, start by creating structure. Jazz, arguably one of the most creative and adaptive music styles ever created, is not without structure. It’s understanding the rules of music that allows the musicians to improvise in response to their fellow musicians.
Paradoxically, by creating structure, you create certainty which allows creativity and adaptiveness to develop.
For more on creating certainty, check out my webinar: 5 Keys to Creating Certainty in an Uncertain World.
Watch Our Training...
The Mechanics of Performance
Some leaders find themselves in this situation, they've got a solid team and they feel like they're communicating well with them, but there's a problem...the team doesn't seem to be working up to their potential. It can be incredibly frustrating for a leader when a great team, isn't producing great results.
They may notice things like:
- Projects struck in limbo
- Employees focusing their attention on low-priority tasks
- Meetings that jump from topic-to-topic without clear outcomes
It's time to take a closer look at the basics of what drives performance...
Why don't teams make progress on high priority projects?
It's not easy for employees to focus their attention on the right things, when they aren't sure what matters mo.
Sounds simple, right? Leaders explain the company's strategy to the team and that should drive their decision making. The problem is, a large majority of employees are still likely to be unclear about what that strategy is and how it applies to them.
70% of employees don’t understand their company’s strategic direction (University of Technology in Sydney)
Steps to Improving Team Performance...
Get clear about the strategic vision
It's time to follow-up with your employees and make sure that they have a clear understanding of the company's strategy AND what it means to them and how they prioritize their work.
Communication Tip: If you feel that your message isn't getting through to your employees, you'll know if you don't see changes in their behavior, you may have a buy-in or communication issue. Check out my ebook, The Conversation Formula, for help.
Coach them through decision making
It can be so easy for employees to focus their attention on the thing that is right in their face, instead of the thing that makes most. Teach your employees how to prioritize their work, so they are not getting pushed off course by low-priority and time wasting tasks.
Communication Tip: Remember that you will need to take the time to find out what kinds of things are distracting them from important projects. It is not enough to just tell them to focus on what matters. You may also need to help them uncover, eliminate or manage low-priority distractions.
Teach them results-driven time management
Teach your team a time management process that they will all use, ideally one that is results focused. This gives the team a common way to think about priorities and a shared language they can use when working together to decide what needs to be done and in what order.
Time Saving Tip: Contact me about setting up a free Time Management Virtual Training for your team.
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