What's important and effective in leadership has evolved over the past several decades. The fact is that some leaders who are in senior positions today developed their leadership style during a different generation. If your industry or company has lost its competitive edge, it could be a symptom of its leadership.
Not only has the pace of innovation quickened, but the face of our workforce has also changed, both of which impact the role of management in producing results. One recent study reveals that nearly one-third of all employees don't trust their leaders. This isn't something to take lightly since organizations such as Trust Across America have found that the most trustworthy organizations achieve better financial results.
Building trust through effective management can be a tall order for some organizations. Even new leaders may find that they are going against some natural instincts to be divisive and ruthless leaders. Unfortunately, the days of keeping people in a box with strict rules and only a paycheck as motivation are long past.
Just saying, "I want to be a better leader," will not make it so. Affirmations are well and good, but you'll need to take some action to create real change. Here are ten effective management techniques you can begin practicing to become a remarkable leader.
1. Communicate Your Vision.
Your organization can have the clearest and most amazing vision laid out for its ultimate success, but it will be destined to fail if you keep it a secret. One of the reasons that so few employees trust their leaders is the "need to know" mentality in many companies, which is quite the opposite of “data democratization.”
“Data democratization means that everybody has access to data and there are no gatekeepers that create a bottleneck at the gateway to the data. It requires that we accompany the access with an easy way for people to understand the data so that they can use it to expedite decision-making and uncover opportunities for an organization. The goal is to have anybody use data at any time to make decisions with no barriers to access or understanding.”
Transparency is a key leadership quality. Employees both fear and loath unpredictability in a company. Instead, let everyone in on your company's mission, give them the tools and data to help accomplish goals, and quickly communicate changes so that you can maintain a cohesive team.
2. Listen More.
Do you truly listen to your employees or is your leadership style closer to a one-way conversation? Most entrepreneurs are strong-willed managers who know what they want and quickly assume the "boss" role. Starting and running a business can be stressful, but it's no walk in the park for employees who are forced to work under a manager who speaks more than listens.
The most effective managers learn to sit quietly and hear what their team has to say about the direction of the company. They will also keep their ears open in less formal settings, where they may pick up on other areas that could be improved. This might also include some strategic social media interaction.
3. Show Enthusiasm.
You can't fake genuine enthusiasm for your business, its products, or your mission. Employees recognize whether or not your cheerleading is sincere or manufactured for their benefit. When a leader is passionate about their business, those feelings become contagious throughout every level of the company.
Take SpaceX as a perfect example. On Feb. 6, 2018, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket to the celebration of the company's CEO Elon Musk and its 7,000 employees. There is a behind-the-scenes video depicting Musk jumping for joy, yelling, "Look at that! That's unreal!" Even someone who worked with Musk in the early stages of SpaceX said that it was his enthusiasm far above his intelligence that has driven the success of the private space company.
4. Empower Employees.
Can your employees step outside their box to make autonomous decisions? If not, you could be holding your company back from success. What many people don't realize is that Disney, Google, and Zappos all empower their employees to make decisions for the good of the customer and the company.
When an employee is given this power, they understand that they are also taking responsibility for their choices. As a leader, you can create a culture of trust and empowerment in your organization that will improve productivity, employee morale, and customer satisfaction.
5. Be Human.
If you're trying to be perfect, you're going to miss the mark with your employees more often than not. In fact, the drive to put forth a trait of strength could be your biggest downfall. Others will probably view you as being rigid and uptight and won't feel comfortable sharing their ideas or concerns about the company or their roles.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has tried to change the way we view being "human" in leadership roles. After the sudden death of her husband, Sandberg now shares her struggles as well as the ways that we can connect as human beings in the workplace. This doesn't have to be all doom and gloom material. In addition to letting your emotions show, it's also cool to share with employees your latest Netflix binge over the weekend.
6. Encourage Diversity.
The most effective leaders recognize that a diverse workplace will provide the best results for their business. When inclusivity and equality are a priority within a company's walls, employees are more likely to feel happy and comfortable in that environment. According to the Harvard Business Review, a business that puts emphasis on diversity produces more innovative ideas. As a manager and leader, you can make sure that your company or department is hiring people from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and gender.
7. Show Integrity.
If you're taking credit for everyone else's accomplishments, you likely won't be seen as a leader with integrity. Instead, you should be building up your employees and providing them with the recognition they want and deserve. Beyond this, exhibit honesty and integrity in your business dealings. If you want to know what not to do, take a look at Uber. The ridesharing startup has been riddled with scandals for well over year, ranging from sexual harassment claims to theft of intellectual property to driver endangerment.
Your company's bottom line is vital, but so is the safety of its employees and the quality of your products and services. When you make a commitment to doing what is right, you will gain the trust and respect of your team. If you decide to do otherwise, you will make headlines and lose market share.
8. Embrace Technology.
This may sound like a given in the 21st century, but some leaders are still resisting any changes related to technology and innovation. If you are prone to statements like, "what we're doing is working," you may want to read a few history books (start with the sudden fall of Rome).
In some cases, it's natural to resist change and even wasteful to jump on every new bandwagon. The best leaders, however, remain open to the possibilities of what innovation can provide for their business. Technology is changing fast, and the companies who fail to embrace AI, cloud technology, and possibly even blockchain, could get left behind.
9. Ask for Feedback.
The most remarkable leaders don't assume that they are doing everything right, but rather look for ways to make improvements. Since your team is driving your results, this is the best place to start. A useful approach is to ask for feedback anonymously so that you will receive the most candid replies.
Ask what you should keep doing as a leader, what things you could improve on or should stop doing, and leave yourself open for any other suggestions. Once you have the feedback, share it with your team and create an action plan for some changes.
10. Become a Cheerleader.
One of your primary roles as a leader is to be the head cheerleader for your company or department. It may sound corny, but giving your team the motivation to produce their best results is what is going to maximize your business' bottom line results. This might entail offering encouragement, advice, or a sympathetic ear on occasion.
Being an effective and dynamic leader has nothing to do with adhering to the status quo. Instead, you must be willing to take risks and be uncomfortable in certain roles. If you find that your leadership style has become outdated, it may be time to reinvent yourself and focus on some new management techniques. If you are a new manager, you have an opportunity to avoid some common mistakes in leadership, such as lack of strategic focus and a tendency to self-promoter. If you embrace these effective management techniques quicker than others in your industry, your bottom line results will soar.
11. Don't Get Stuck.
Leadership development, whether for yourself or your team, is time consuming and challenging. If you are too busy ‘doing the books’ or wearing multiple hats that includes being a part-time pseudo-accountant, these are barriers to becoming a remarkable leader. Please take a moment to contact Eric Moore HERE to talk about how we can help you focus on the future by taking care of your bookkeeping and accounting needs!
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