Leaders lead; it’s as simple as that, right? Not exactly. A relatively small percentage of employees promoted or thrust into leadership roles have the natural, innate ability to lead in a compassionate, measured way. Most others lack the critical skills to lead effectively — and the negative impact on the workplace can be considerable.
Employers with ineffective leadership in place are far more likely to struggle with disappointing productivity, low morale, high turnover and even costly legal disputes. Any or certainly all of these troubles can diminish or devastate the financial strength of the organization.
Teach your leaders well
The most direct way that employers can avoid inadvertently undercutting their own success is to invest a reasonable amount of time and money in leadership training. In most cases, this involves a series of courses or workshops that teach specific skills or help existing leaders “upskill” their proficiencies in certain areas. These may include:
Leadership style. There’s no one-size-fits-all template for being a good leader. Employees in leadership roles need to identify and develop a style that suits their personalities and strengths. Generally, leaders tend to be either autocratic (giving orders, expecting specified results), delegatory (allowing team members to work independently for the most part) or participative (a combination of the previous two styles that includes feedback from the team).
Time and energy management. Quality of leadership tends to suffer when a leader is stretched too thin or chooses to focus on one aspect of a job more than others. For example, an organization might have a leader who’s involved in strategic development but who also supervises a team of employees. If that leader spends 80% of the time on strategic development and only 20% on team building and supervision, those employees are probably going to feel largely ignored.
Performance management. Most employers, particularly larger ones, have a formal process in place for establishing expectations, setting goals, measuring performance and conducting performance reviews at least once annually. Leaders may also need to spend time directly coaching some employees or working with them on performance improvement plans. Long story short, performance management can be complex and rigorous, requiring highly skilled and patient leaders to carry it out.
Conflict resolution. A natural and usually unavoidable part of leadership is resolving conflicts that arise among team members or perhaps with other teams within the organization. If mishandled or ignored, these clashes can lead to widespread distrust and dysfunctional behavior. Leaders need to be able to recognize potential conflicts early and mitigate them. They also need to follow a formal and legally sound dispute resolution process when necessary.
Virtual team building. A relatively new leadership challenge for some employers, which has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic, is the widespread use of remote workers. Whereas leaders once had the “luxury” of at least seeing their team members face to face in meeting rooms and offices, many employees now work from home and most meetings are conducted online. This means leaders often need to go the extra mile to get and stay in touch.
Address the issue
To be clear, these are but a few areas of leadership training to consider. It’s in every employer’s best interest to identify where deficiencies lie and to address them. Doing so may involve engaging an outside firm to provide training or developing your own in-house program.
HoganTaylor Human Capital Strategies Services
If you have any questions about this content, or if you would like more information about HoganTaylor’s Advisory practice, please contact Jeff Wilkie, Principal and lead of the HoganTaylor Human Capital Strategies (HCS) practice. More information is also available on the Human Capital Strategies page of this website.
INFORMATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY. This content is for informational purposes only. This content does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon by you or any third party, including to operate or promote your business, secure financing or capital in any form, obtain any regulatory or governmental approvals, or otherwise be used in connection with procuring services or other benefits from any entity. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with professional advisors.