It is not enough to secure a position as a leader.
These days an effective leader is necessary to lead a successful company.
A successful leader knows that a genuine effort to connect and engage with employees will create a solid foundation for the best possible outcomes in business.
Leading by example is good but in today’s times, we are in dire need of effective leaders. An effective leader embodies additional skills aside from the core responsibility they are hired to accomplish.
People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers (leaders).
All companies have a right to hire at will and implement and execute policies that will create order and maintain consistency while expecting the highest quality output from employees to maximize the company growth, future potential, and best possible outcomes in every transaction.
However, we are only human and we come with flaws (or as known in corporate jargon “could be improved upon”). To be an effective leader there are basic and necessary skills that should be considered non-negotiable when hiring someone for a leadership role. You may want to hire the brilliant thinker, from a bottom-line perspective, but if the road this leader selects to get there does not motivate, inspire and empower the employees they are charged with to reach that goal, they may find it falling short at the finish line.
It is no surprise that the pandemic has affected every person as well as every business on the planet. People have lost loved ones, jobs, and missed major life events. An overwhelming number of people were not able to pay rent, utilities, or buy daily necessities. Many were unable to keep up with regular health regimes/appointments. Those who were able to work remotely had to scramble with issues of child care, remote learning, isolation, and disconnection from their work team.
This has all resulted in a severe and radical decline in mental health. If work stress/low morale was bad prior to the pandemic yet people were functioning, the pandemic magnified those issues. Many people left jobs, marriages, relationships and had a major reassessment of their life choices. Babies born during the pandemic delayed meeting grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These children have likely never seen a smile of a passerby in the street or a store when they were taken outside the home due to the mask-wearing furthering the disconnect that now passes down to the younger population who will only perceive it as normal.
The leaders of today have a heavier burden now to get their actual jobs done while attempting to maintain vigilance on the mental wellbeing of their delegates. Although it may seem like an additional and daunting task, there are ways to ensure your team is doing well without feeling the obligation to save the world by yourself.
Here are some tips on how you can be a more effective leader:
• Call your team together once a week at a time convenient for all if they are remote just to touch base. Keep it short to show respect of time but be receptive and vigilant for silent queues of distress or potential for it.
• If you have returned to the office, have a quick huddle regularly to check in as a team.
• If you sense someone is disconnected/disengaged, reach out to check in personally and assure them that you see them.
• Ask if they need help.
• Offer “2 Minute Vent Sessions” – usually that is all that is needed, anything longer would likely show a bigger issue which can then be addressed by company policy and protocols.
• The quick vent session could diffuse the potential of escalation because the person having a bad moment feels validated/seen/heard.
• Be vulnerable. Often leaders show a tough exterior for fear of being perceived as weak. However, vulnerability shows empathy and compassion which forms connections between humans no matter what the level within the company reflects. Connections and being genuine are the foundation of strong dynamics that build trust. Trust leads to less angst in the workplace.
• Send a quick IM, e-mail or calendar invite to remind your delegates to return to breath recognition (aka “grounding”) for 1-2 minutes, stand or stretch and rehydrate.
• Send a YouTube video with a quick how-to on meditation, a feel-good company commercial, or an image to put a smile on their faces.
• Time your work emails appropriately to be sent only during working hours.
• Ask for feedback and then reflect genuine attention to what is said by showing action even if it is just circling back to acknowledge no immediate action is available.
• Encourage the exchange of healthy outputs for letting frustrations out, acknowledging frustration is sometimes a result of all that we do and the demands we face.
This could beg the question of why take this extra care? The front-line employees are the ones who do the work, show a face of a company, and either make a consumer have a pleasant experience or not. It is possible for a consumer to have a pleasant experience even when dealing with an unpleasant and unexpected situation.
Good leaders will take the time to show appreciation and recognition to their employees. People like to feel valued and even a simple thank you, an email or a small token of appreciation goes a long way.
We are all humans with weaknesses and the above is not intended to be a list of additional tasks to do, however, a small effort to show someone else that we are on the same side and will go a long way towards the best possible outcome for the employee, their leader, and the entire company.
Today’s workforce is challenged by true market conditions and great leaders make it a point to do what they can to retain their very best. If they don’t, some other employer will!