Here’s another topic that has been written about, blogged about and talked about a lot. Leadership. As employee engagement continues to stagnate, in terms of actually engaging more employees – here’s 10 shocking statistics – the role of leaders crops up time and again.
So, I thought I’d run through a few ideas about how leaders can create a workplace that their people rave about. It actually starts with the promise you make to potential employees – or the two-way deal – what you’ll give and what they’ll get. And that includes leadership – what can they expect from leaders.
Shape and share the purpose of the organisation
Employees are increasingly caring about a sense of purpose, and that their employer is doing the right things in society and making a meaningful difference.
Making the purpose, or vision (or whatever you choose to call it) is vital as the foundation on which to build strategy and objectives. Then share it regularly and make the connections to everyday work.
Map the employee journey and experience
Being clear about the stages of the journey from attraction to alumni means it’s easy to then map the leader and manager interactions against the steps. Consider the touch points, the frequency and specifically, what kinds of conversations should leaders be having. The employee/manager connection drives engagement, so it’s an opportunity to be clear about how that relationship will work right from the start.
Mentor and listen
Mentoring is a non-directive form of development with an emphasis on performance and support. It’s an opportunity to rovide feedback on positive and negative aspects. It’s a real skill and calls on an ability to question, listen, reframe and clarify. And while it’s mostly associated with a senior person mentoring a junior team member, it can be successful with peers and at times I’ve even found myself mentoring, and coaching senior leaders. We’ve all got different skills and experience and we should behave like mentors when we get the chance – and if the moment is right.
Allow mistakes and learn from failure
I’ve not heard many leaders actually say ‘it’s ok to make mistakes’ but there’s real leadership in giving permission to employees to try, test, fail and learn. Here’s a list of 50 famously successful people who failed first. Our world would be different without a few of them, let alone all 50. So next time, something goes wrong, or a team member stuffs up, think about the learning, have a discussion and allow the failure.
Connect with front line – walk, talk, listen, ask
I once chaired a monthly brown-bag lunch with a CEO and a dozen employees – chosen by their manager. They were invited to turn up, have a sandwich and just chat with the CEO about anything that was on their mind. No agenda. Nothing was off limits. I took for granted my regular connections with the CEO, but those that attended were grateful and empowered by being able to get straight answers and open, casual conversation with someone they respected. It was easy, free and engaging.
How you show up is important
Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins address the issue of presence in their book Own The Room. I recall many discussions about various people either having ‘gravitas’ or not, and what that actually meant. I’ve never thought I had it because I wasn’t tall enough, or my voice wasnt deep enough – to be taken seriously at executive level. But presence can be learned. It’s about knowing your assumptions, your energy and humility. And apparently mimicking the confidence of tall people works just as well.
Find your Fab 5
I’ll finish up with this great piece of advice. “You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn”. Those that we surround ourselves with, have a big impact on our work lives. The right 5 people will spur us on, be career catalyst and push us to excellence. I’m going to consider who these 5 people are for me. Find a mentor, sponsor, collaborator, devils advocate and entrepreneur.
And finally….”Whatever you are, be a good one” —Abraham Lincoln