An Aon Hewitt 2012 study (https://www.aonhewitt.com.au/Home/About/News#leadership) of nearly 71,000 Australian and New Zealand employees across more than 150 organisations reported that only 49% of employees believe their leaders are effective.
Aon Hewitt’s Head of Leadership Consulting, James Rutherford stated that high performing businesses place a premium on talent and recognise that strong leadership is more than a competitive advantage. It separates world-class companies from the rest.
So what’s the secret to achieving effective leadership and an engaged workforce?
Key leadership skills that result in increased engagement
There are many skills that managers should possess to ensure they function as effective leaders, but arguably these five are key:
1. Trust and Respect
Without trust, a relationship will never achieve its goals and this is certainly true of the leader/employee relationship. In any business environment trust and respect are integral ingredients and go a long way to encouraging employees to be open and collaborative.
It’s also worthwhile noting that in the work environment trust cannot be achieved easily. Leaders need to demonstrate that they are worthy and show belief in their direct reports.
Tips for building trust as a leader (1):
- Be authentic
- Promote “ownership”
- Develop potential
- Create an energized culture
- Sacrifice when necessary
2. Communication skills
For an employee to truly feel engaged and included, it is essential that they are communicated with regularly, in a timely manner and encouraged to share feedback individually or in the group environment. This builds productive working relationships.
By establishing guidelines and common ground, ensuring that everyone feels comfortable about voicing concerns, providing ideas and brainstorming solutions, employees will be encouraged to contribute.
3. Ongoing staff development
Effective leaders understand that in order for staff to perform productively and remain motivated, they need to have the most up to date skills, tools and equipment at their fingertips.
4. Shared visions
It’s important to take employees on a journey. Expand this concept to incorporate the bigger picture and you’ll see the importance of ensuring employees feel that they are aligned with their chosen organisation’s values and vision.
When every element of their role is clearly connected to a broader operation-wide purpose, there’s commitment. Leaders need to ensure that their teams are engaged in all elements.
5. Setting an example
The manner in which a leader acts and performs in their role as well as their attitude is always on show. It reflects on the business and it also directly impacts the way in which staff respect them.
Leaders need to set an example in more ways than one. Any fully engaged employee will comfortably claim to learn many things from an inspirational leader.
Bridging the gap
In reality, these essential skills don’t always come naturally to those in leadership positions. Most importantly though, they can be acquired. In some instances, developing new habits requires the unlearning of old ones which can take some time, particularly for those who have a lifetime of ineffective management styles under their belt.
Every business owner needs to recognise that success depends on the key strengths of its employees, so it is essential that those appointed to leadership roles have what it takes. Leveraging off the services of professionals, leaders will have newly acquired techniques reinforced and they will learn from ongoing practice.
Establishing a positive culture
Leaders, who have the skills and know-how to create a culture of engagement, have more engaged employees. Staff who feel connected, valued and part of a safe and supporting community are ones that every business needs to aspire to employ and most importantly, retain.
You must agree that in a highly competitive world, the issue of engaging people well is fast becoming one of the biggest differentiators.
Placing someone in a position of management isn’t going to guarantee that they’ll instantly become a brilliant leader. In fact, managing staff and leading them are quite different and it’s the former that has led many organisations to experience significant employee turnover. It’s crippling many businesses and it’s time that business owners take heed. The importance of developing leaders within your workplace, to ensure staff are engaged, has never been more paramount.
Every business owner knows that when they grow their people, they grow their business. Never underestimate the importance of developing leaders. An engaging, passionate and collaborative team of leaders will engage staff in ways that will ensure they aren’t looking elsewhere for better opportunities.
If staff retention is a growing concern or your employees are not operating as productively as they can, it may be time to consider organising a customized workshop on effective leadership. Contact the experts at CDL Insight Consulting for more information.