As time goes on — the subject of leadership becomes broader and more abstract. Today, leadership comes in many forms and applies itself across a range of diverse roles. The idea that leadership is only for people of authority is a thought of the past. Today, leadership skills are an expectation for every level of employee. Yet, it is still true that leadership is more applicable to some roles than others. Managers have a duty to act with great leadership skills in order to help employees and ensure a smooth-running company. Additionally, the leadership skills of a manager play a major role in not just bottom lines, but employee satisfaction as well. That’s why good leadership company-wide is a major deal. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to control or fix. At the sight of bad leadership, companies may feel the need to fire and rehire. We have a different solution.
This week at CiVS we’re taking a moment to think about how to improve companywide leadership. Aside from hiring and relocating management, how can we improve leadership? And how can we improve our personal leadership skills as well? In this article we go through seven different ways that companies can shake up and revamp leadership. Some of these tips will be applicable only on a management level. While others can advise us on how to become stronger leaders ourselves.
Changing up the leadership style
Are you aware of the different leadership styles? If you have a browse around you’ll find a couple different definitions. Some say there are seven, others eight, for now let’s keep it simple with five. Different leadership styles fit best with different objectives and teams. Some managers will naturally choose a leadership style that suits their personality. Other managers might change and evolve their style as the situation around them changes. A good way to make big changes in companywide leadership is to observe and critique the leadership styles in use.
Look at the leaders around you, and their team, how is the fit? What are the objectives? Talk with managers and make an assessment about how their leadership style is impacting their teams. If you think they haven’t chosen the best style of leading, let them know. Alternatively, different leaders with different leadership styles may be a sign for you to switch management around. Will one leader fit better with a different team?
What are the 5 leadership styles?
You can read a brief on each management style below. If you’re looking for more information we recommend visiting this IMD article on the 5 Leadership Styles.
- Authoritarian Leadership: Use when team members need clear guidelines. This leadership style is all about taking charge and calling the shots. It best fits situations where the leader is the most knowledgeable in the team.
- Participative Leadership: Use when there is a knowledgeable and communicative team. In this leadership style, the team gets to run more of the show. The leader typically doesn’t weigh in until the end of the decision-making.
- Delegative leadership: Use when there are competent and independent team members. In this situation the leader delegates roles and tasks and communication between team members is minimal.
- Transactional leadership: Use in situations where routine and procedures need to be followed efficiently, without shaking things up. This leadership style is all about rewarding employees for a “job well done”.
- Transformational Leadership: Use when you want to give employees a vision and voice. This is a more hands-off leadership style in which the leader inspires the team.
How does your leadership style compare with these?
Organise & attend training workshops
No matter how good you are at something — you can always be better. Training workshops don’t have to just be for newbies. Attending an annual workshop on leadership styles can be a great way to hone your skills. Leadership workshops offer the opportunity to broaden your idea of what leadership means. It also allows for new perspectives and incorporates new leadership strategies or research in the area. This is something great that you can do just by yourself or implement as part of a company policy. Setting one day aside each year for managers to learn how to become a better leader has major potential upsides.
One more thing to consider is emotional intelligence coaching. This is a new way to approach leadership, putting employees first. Fostering a sense of empathy and support for employees in the office is an important way to maintain good productivity. Unfortunately, options such as this are too often underutilised.
Understand the importance of personalities
Personality tests have the ability to measure facets of a persons behaviours, motivators, strengths, weaknesses, challenges and more. They can reveal pivotal information about how a person leads as well as how they should lead. It can also cause people to confront their personal shortcomings and identify potential problem areas in their leadership styles.
When it comes to taking the test — there are no right or wrong answers. Managers should feel relaxed when taking it for the most accurate results. Feedback from the tests should be taken on board directly as feedback. With outcomes producing real actionable results and solutions. If you’re looking at tests to take, check out some of the ones listed here.
Create a culture of feedback
Changing company culture is no small feat, we know. However, small changes can often make a big difference in how it feels around the office. Make sure that in your workplace, feedback is being taken on board and appreciated. Communicate with employees the importance of feedback and encourage them to reach out on their own. Managers can communicate this directly with their teams, or it can be a separate announcement.
Another, more powerful, solution is to using company-wide surveys. This helps employees understand that they’re feedback will not only be well received but is also appreciated and necessary. With a CiVS employee survey, employers can create a survey which helps capture all the necessary information. With a third confidential party involved, employees will feel safe to be their honest selves. This is of critical importance, as if employees believe that their answers are not anonymous, their responses will be biased. Taking the insights from the survey results and evolving them into company change demonstrates the importance of feedback. It will make employees feel that their voice is valued. If employees see their feedback is well received, it will cause them to speak up more often. This results in a positive loop, in which a feedback culture can be established.
Importantly, as managers receive comments and critique on their leadership, they can develop and better themselves.
Hold management responsible
Too often management tries to shift blame onto employees. This discourages them from improving on themselves and their leadership style. Holding managers accountable will force them to confront their shortcomings and ultimately make them better leaders. It can, however, be hard sometimes to understand whether responsibility should land on the shoulders of the employee or manager. Below we’ve put some ways to spot the difference.
- Does the employee have their own explanation? Too often employees don’t have a voice, and the manager is provided blind trust without a second thought. It’s important that employees have a way to communicate managerial problems as well as defend themselves against problems. Try reaching out to employees directly, to hear all sides of the story.
- Is there a pattern? If a certain team has a persistent problem regardless of the turnover, it’s likely a leadership issue. One or two low productivity employees might be by chance. If a whole team is lacking results, it might be that they’re missing some much-needed direction.
- What do other employees think? Sometimes it’s not just about one employee, but what a whole team has to say. Reach out to employees to report and evaluate management. This way you can understand the root cause of problems, instead of taking things at face value.
Ensure that leadership is reflecting the companies greater purpose
In our previous discussion on business purpose, we talked about how an employees business purpose tied to their work outcomes. Having a sense of purpose is a major work motivator for employees at every level. That’s why leaders have to make sure its communicated effectively. A good leader will make employees understand the importance of their work, and why they’re doing it. Employees should understand how they are part of a greater purpose, and how their efforts help the company.
On a Birkman blog post on leadership effectiveness, the importance of projecting a company vision is stressed. To help companies understand whether leaders are meeting this objective, they’ve put some questions forward:
- What are the key goals for the company (elaborate beyond profit/revenue growth)? Could these goals be further clarified?
- Are there 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year growth plans in place?
- Are there clear benchmarks for measuring the success of those efforts?
- How are the goals, plans, and benchmarks being communicated to teams? Is there room to improve this communication?
- Does the team have a clear sense of purpose about how it contributes to the customers, stakeholders, and company mission?
- When circumstances change and goals need to be adjusted, is that reflected clearly to team members? How frequently do you meet with team members to discuss progress?
- How are you encouraging and incentivizing employees to feel passionate about meeting company goals?
Connect and listen to employees
A leader should be well respected and trusted by their team. If employees feel that there is a communication barrier with their leader, morale and productivity will suffer. Employees may find it hard to speak up or offer new ideas which can be detrimental to bottom lines. That’s why clear and empathetic communication is important. Above all, leaders should understand the personalities of the people in their team, and who they really are. Understanding the team will also help with role assignment, as employee strengths and weaknesses come to the surface. This type of understanding can be nourished easily with effective two-way communication, such as:
- Allowing employees to pitch in during meetings and actively seeking their opinion
- Ensuring that employees give their feedback to the company. This applies to a variety of feedback areas including management and projects.
- Taking time to understand employees. This includes mingling at company events, pre or post-meeting, and taking part in team building exercises.