Is Your Leadership Style Still Fit For Purpose?
March 03, 2016
by Ian Broadway
If you are to be an effective leader, you need your team to follow you and more importantly you need them to want to follow you. Yet this isn’t easy, and it doesn’t matter if you are Vice President of Clinical Operations or a Franchise Head in Marketing, people in leadership positions all around the world often struggle to lead in a way that engages and inspires their team.
It’s possible, just possible, that you’re doing a few key things that aren’t working. They’re common- and in days gone by they might have worked, however with today’s workforce their motivations and drivers are different and consequently the new generation of employees want more from you, and it’s your job to deliver.
Don’t worry the rewards will be huge for you and the business.
Three things a leader needs to do for people to willingly follow them.
1. Seek to understand.
Are you talking more than you’re listening? That’s the wrong way around. As Stephen Covey Snr. puts it ‘Seek first to understand before being understood ‘. As a leader it is your job to listen first, and put your views across only after you understand the employees’ viewpoint or situation. This ‘you first’ attitude can be utilised in meetings, performance reviews, or even just general conversation.
This has several benefits:
a) The employee feels understood and valued because they had the opportunity to share their opinion. This generates loyalty even when you don’t ultimately agree with what they say.
b) You already know what you think, but this person might have a whole new aspect on a situation that you had completely missed. As a leader, you will inevitably get further away from how things are ‘on the ground’; your employees are the ones who will communicate potential problems or opportunities that you might otherwise miss.
c) Listening while someone talks gives you an opportunity to assess any spoken or body language cues that you probably won’t receive if you’re just talking. The longer someone speaks, the more likely their true feelings on the matter will come out.
*Remember, ‘listening’ is not just confined to the spoken word- you can also ‘listen’ to the way people carry themselves, how their work ethic and enthusiasm changes over time, or how they interact with others. ‘Non-verbal listening’ is a tremendous way to keep abreast of what’s going on with your team members.
2. Ask for what’s essential, then what’s necessary.
Are you burying your team under a pile of work all labelled ‘urgent’? Is all of it really that urgent, or can some be delayed slightly? Good leaders have the wisdom to only ask for a rush job on what is essential, and then move onto the other necessary items later.
Front-loading everything will just stress your team out and have their cursor hovering over job ads. And as we’ve written about before, multi-tasking over lots of tasks decimates productivity by up to 40% and inhibits problem-solving, creativity and learning outcomes.
3. Success comes from enabling your people.
One of the many challenges of leading and managing in the healthcare industry is that so often teams are virtual and yet we often micro-manage because we care about the job and fear bad outcomes.
It’s understandable, but that’s really not a good enough reason to do it- and it will definitely result in a ‘bad outcome’ when good team members leave the organisation because they are tired of you not believing in them, or trusting them.
If you genuinely think your team members are not good enough to fulfil the task properly, you must ask yourself: where did you fail to provide enough direction or training that has resulted in them not being up to the task? Can you rectify that?
Or is this your issue of lacking trust, and not theirs at all? However it’s come about, you can change the situation and enable your employees. Ask for opinions, nurture a creative atmosphere, enact good ideas, give lots of praise, and give all the training and support necessary for your team members to succeed.
Meanwhile, you can get on with other things with all that time you’ve just freed up by not managing your team’s every move.
At first, some of these things might feel strange. You might want to start by tackling one element (or a sub-point) at a time. But you will probably find that they all quickly link up and naturally feed into each other, as your new effective listening and delegating approach generates a more creative and loyal workplace.