The cliché of a leader as someone who barks orders to staff members and leads through fear still exists in many people’s minds. But that certainly is not considered the most effective way to lead by most leadership gurus and coaches, and it has not been for quite some time.
The focus today is on a kinder, gentler leadership. However, it can be difficult to find the line between driving employees too hard and lowering expectations too far.
Figuring out the right balance is critically important for successful businesses. Here are five principles you may want to consider when assessing your leadership capabilities and style:
- Remember that team members are individuals. There can be a tendency to consider the entire team as one unit. However, personalization is key for leaders today. Different people learn in different ways, become engaged in different ways, and want to work in different ways. Leaders who are able to connect with people as individuals are more likely to have success.
- Explain why. Team members today want to understand more than just what their specific task is; they want to understand the purpose of the organization, and how their role in it helps to push the company toward success. Creating a vision for the business and keeping it top of mind is a hallmark of successful companies.
- Communicate. Constantly. As a team leader, you are busy. However, you must make frequent communication with the team a top priority. If people do not quite grasp a concept or understand a situation, they are likely to fill in the blanks with their own opinions. That can lead to confusion, and a team that is not all pulling in the same direction. For leaders, it may seem like you are overcommunicating, but that is virtually impossible to do.
- Express gratitude. People want to know that the company values their work. Great leaders are not afraid to thank their team members for their support. Even if they are just “doing their job,” a sincere thank you can be very welcome. Very often appreciation is a greater reward than money. Show your sincere gratitude for the unique contribution everyone makes to the organization.
- Encourage innovation. Most leaders say they want to do this, but it is important to remember that simply saying it is not enough. In order to encourage innovation, you must welcome ideas that you disagree with, and you must allow team members to spend time on projects that you do not have full confidence in. Shutting down ideas because you think they will not work never gives the team a chance to innovate. You have to let them fail.
As global competition has reached into just about every nook and cranny of the business world, optimizing performance of your team has become increasingly important. The difference between winning and losing in business can be very narrow, and growing businesses need the advantage of a high-performing team.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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