It’s 2018. Throw a stone and you’ll hit another company in competition with your product, your customers, or worse: your workforce. A famous Gallup poll of over 1 million people stated that 75% of employees choose to leave their jobs due to poor leadership.
Ben Wigert, lead researcher at Gallup explains in his blog post, “Ultimately, managers have one job: hire the best talent and continuously engage them. If they don't meet the basic psychological needs of their most talented employees, they squander years of performance gains. At worst, they lose their talent (and whoever leaves with them) to their competitors.”
Here are five leadership tips that can help build trust, autonomy, and empowerment for you and your employees. To fully encapsulate what it means to be a leader and a coach takes a lifetime of learning and self reflection, but these should get you well on your way being more than your average manager.
Tip #1: Level up your emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships empathetically. A better understanding of self can help you uncover behaviors that you may have never noticed are hurting you.
A great place to start unlocking this information is to expose yourself to various forms of emotional mindfulness and best practices. Perhaps your company invests in helpful resources such as workshops, team building activities, or educational opportunities. Another great place to start your journey is with TED Talks or by gaining perspective from other inspirational leaders such as Simon Sinek.
Tip #2: First listen, then advocate.
Emotional intelligence relies on the ability to hear the emotion behind a person's words. An employee may talk about a process that doesn't work well, but the underlying emotion is frustration and inability to do their best work. We've all experienced this before: something outside your own control hindering your best work from shining through.
Schedule 1:1 meetings weekly, or bi-weekly, and give your employee the space to speak freely. This time is theirs. A rule I try to follow is that the vast majority of my speaking should be questions, followed by active-listening, and then confirmation that you are hearing what they are saying correctly.
Then it's time to take action. At the end of each meeting, reiterate the takeaways. Remember, a regularly scheduled meeting is for them, not you. End the session with something like this. "I appreciate all you've shared with me. What I heard was A, B, C. Is that correct? Great, I can help by X, Y, Z. Will that work?"
Be an advocate for your employees. As their leader, it is your responsibility to help them unlock their full potential and get roadblocks out of the way whenever possible. A great leader I've had the pleasure of working with once said, "The devil is in the details, and your employees have the details. Hire great people provide an idea or vision, and then spend the majority of your time removing obstacles for them to complete it, or come up with a better idea entirely."
Tip #3: Model the behaviors you seek.
Culture is defined as the rules of the road, or a set of values and behaviors that everyone abides by when no one is looking. It's human nature to want to fit in (even if it's a subconscious desire), so it's important to remember that people will be turning to you for direction.
If you want your people to work together, you need to lead the way in showing them how to best collaborate and problem solve together. If you want them to be on time, you need to be consistently on time. What you celebrate, what you ignore, and what you decide to act upon will make or break the quality of the team you support.
Be intentional about the behaviors you create. Put your own spin on things and feel free to think outside of the box.
Tip #4: Silos are for grains.
Include your people in the process. Silos can be one of the most destructive behaviors in companies with massive ramifications. You can take a huge step towards having a strong performing team by simply asking your people what they stand for. It's a fantastic way to build trust, connect over more than a project, and really help them feel they have a part in more than just a finished task or quota attained.
We all want to do great work, but spend time figuring out why each person works. This often times is exactly what people are looking for in a leader.
Tip #5: Be inventive, be you!
A common phrase of mine that started as a joke has actually become so much more than that. "It might sound crazy, but that doesn't mean it's wrong." I was quoted saying this a while back after I had recently pitched a performance training idea to a client. They thought I was bonkers, but what started out as a wild idea soon became a standard in leadership training and my professional development consulting as well.
Just because it hasn't been done before doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Be bold, take risks, and always do what is best for your team. Some of the most memorable offsite events or team exercises I've done all stemmed from a unique idea. The funny thing is, they often work as long as your heart is in the right place, and you've built a culture that encourages it.
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