Written by: Merri Lemmex, MBA, PMP, Lemmex Williams Training
Your leadership style has worked for you just fine so far, so why change? And, if you did change, what would you change and how? Great leaders have thought about these questions and worked on adapting their leadership styles to their organizations.
So why should you change?
Business is different. Expectations have changed, especially with millennials flooding the workforce. This is the first time in history that four generations have worked side by side, and the adaptable leader is one who can connect and lead more successfully with all generations than those that choose not to.
Things are changing fast. With the speed of technology, it is impossible for a single leader to remain in touch with the new advances. It takes a team of dedicated people to keep up and explore today’s technologies and invent future ones. Great leaders surround themselves with teams that make things happen.
You need to do more with less. North America has and still is, experiencing economic downturns making it harder for leaders to just stay the course. You need to figure out how to inspire your people to work harder and smarter. Increasing productivity through motivation is one of the most effective, and probably the cheapest method of improving your business. Plus, who doesn’t want motivated happy employees?
People want feedback. Generally speaking, younger generations are more open to feedback. In fact, millennials are used to getting frequent feedback – good or bad – so they look for it as a way to develop themselves and reach their goals. Great leaders take the time to give feedback so their employees know exactly how they are doing and what it will take to improve.
So, what would you change and how can you do it?
Leaders today need to be adaptable. They need to be adaptable to their employees and their diverse needs. They need to be flexible to meet with ever-changing technology and business needs. Here are some key areas to focus your leadership development:
Be adaptable to your employees. Being adaptable requires you to understand how competent your employees are at their tasks, and what support they need from you to be successful. You need to know what style of leadership is appropriate in each situation. Your job as a leader is to work FOR your employees – supporting them, removing roadblocks, cheerleading, coaching and mentoring.
A great model to adopt is Situational Leadership. Essentially it will show you how to determine the ability and willingness of an employee for any situation, and the best leadership style to use for optimum results.
Work as a team. As a leader, you do not have all the answers, you are just part of the team. You have a pool of knowledge and employees who can be encouraged to come up with new ideas and processes to make your organization more successful.
To get the most out of your team, make sure they know what the organization’s strategy is so they are aligned with the corporate goals. Present them with the situation or challenge and outline the expected outcome. You do not need to tell them how to do it – they’ll figure it out – in fact, they want to figure it out! Give them guidelines for reaching the solution (timeframe, budget, scope, etc.), help remove any procedural or corporate roadblocks, and then get out of their way. (Don’t forget to apply Situational Leadership to guide you in how to best support them as they work through these challenges.)
Motivate your employees. OK – so you can’t actually motivate your employees – people choose to feel motivated or not – but you can create a motivating environment. First – remove anything that is de-motivating your employees. Not sure what that would be? Ask them! Then find out what would help motivate them. They will probably ask for things you cannot give, like across the board raises, or more time off, but keep asking and there will be something they want that you can give them. Think about rewards you can use such as assigning to special projects, flexible hours, leadership roles at meetings, face time with senior leadership….you get the idea.
Give Feedback. The best leadership tool is feedback, and it is free. Feedback is one of those skills you need to master to develop your people, discipline them when necessary, and resolve conflicts effectively. You need your employees to know exactly how they are performing at all times. Feedback is used to improve performance – whether poor performance that needs to be changed or great performance to move up to that next level. Don’t just use feedback as a disciplinary method, but look to find opportunities to give good feedback to encourage people.
In conclusion, it is up to a leader to be the right fit for their employees, not the other way around. You cannot change others, but you can change yourself. Below are some resources that might improve your leadership skills and inspire you to be more adaptable, flexible, to motivate your employees so they can thrive.
Tools to help you become a better, more effective, leader:
One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard (providing feedback)
Situational Leadership Model – Ken Blanchard (defines how to determine the readiness and willingness of your employees, and how to lead them in different situations)
Multipliers – Liz Wiseman (great information on getting the most out of your people)
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – Verne Harnish (great tips for executing strategy and setting team goals)
What Millennials want from Work - Jennifer J. Deal and Alec Levenson