Who would want to be in charge these days?
With so much talk of employee burnout, the ever-rising risks around physical and emotional safety plus a gaping hole where the talent used to be (thanks COVID), being a leader is a tough gig.
Many professionals step into a leadership role with little training. Despite knowing the company inside out, moving into a position of telling others what to do and making strategic decisions that will impact long term outcomes is very challenging.
What does leadership look like in 2021 and 2022?
With the workforce evolving and expectations of leaders changing, there are three keys to successful leadership in these times:
Leaders create companies that have value for stakeholders, not just shareholders
Reports have found the best employees aren’t just seeking a paycheque these days. They want personal fulfillment and they want to work for a company that has a mission beyond profits. Studies have found that 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if their employee doesn’t have a strong policy around corporate social responsibility, while 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.
As a leader, you need to look at the big, long term picture and focus on the experience of staff as well as customers, and community as well as investors. This helps generate loyalty at all ends of the stakeholder spectrum.
Leaders ask for help
Author and research professor Brené Brown outlines the concept of ‘armour’ in her book Dare to Lead, saying, “To be a daring leader, don’t ‘armour yourself’ by pretending to know everything, hiding behind cynicism or using criticism as self-protection. Value the contributions others have to make and catch people doing the right thing.”
In other words, real leaders leverage the knowledge of others to learn and make the right decisions instead of claiming to know it all. Think about the situation with the pandemic, you can easily argue that the most successful world leaders have listened carefully to information from health professionals before making decisions.
Leaders put culture first
With company culture being a make-or-break factor these days and quality workers being difficult to come by, it is important to create a workplace people speak highly of.
A good leader ensures people want to come to work by showing up and being present alongside his or her team and guiding people towards success rather than giving orders.
Where possible, allowing for flexibility such as working from home, staggering start hours or rostering RDOs shows that you care about people as a leader and are willing to accommodate different circumstances so you can build a diverse and multi-skilled team.
While good pay means a lot to people, having a job they love, good quality of life and a leader they can genuinely learn from often outweighs the lure of a few extra dollars.