“If serving is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.” -Author Unknown
One of the biggest complaints in today’s workforce is leadership. According to this 2022 survey, only 48% of employees view thei
r company’s leadership as “high quality.” A whopping 77% of businesses report that leadership is lacking, and only 5% of businesses have put leadership development into place at all levels.
If you are in a leadership position, you have a significant responsibility. In order to retain talented employees, you must recognize that your influence does not come from your role in the company. It’s time to get rid of the facade – as a leader, you can no longer use your title to command impact in the workplace. True influence only grows when you intentionally listen to, learn from, and support your team members.
Speak to any unhappy employee, and you’ll hear a similar complaint: they don’t feel heard. The specific scenario may differ from company to company, but dissatisfied employees and high turnover rates have a common factor: a leader who isn’t listening. As a leader, it is your responsibility to give your team a voice. Allow them to speak up in meetings, to offer suggestions, and to voice their frustrations. A true leader is secure enough to hear their own shortcomings and humble enough to make a change. Put your people first, and impact will follow.
The first and most important thing to remember as a leader is that you don’t know it all. Your employees already know this, so if you’re masquerading as if you have all of the answers, you’ve already exposed yourself as a fraud. Employees value a leader who asks questions, seeks input, and desires to learn more from them and from others. Put yourself in the vulnerable position to admit when you don’t have a solution or when you simply got it wrong. Apologize, learn, and move forward with your team. Model learning as a leader, and your employees will often follow suit.
The best way to lead your team is to support your team. Find out what your employees need to succeed, and then make that thing happen! Do they need more flexible hours? Do they need a hybrid remote work option? Do they need more resources, more communication, or more instruction on a project? What about mentoring or sponsoring? Rather than lecturing, micromanaging, or firing – as many a leader has been known to do – try empowering. Give your employees the opportunity to accomplish more by being willing to work with them. Support your team with positive affirmation and encouragement. Your positive voice and empowering actions might be the tipping point that moves them from “good” employee to “great” employee.
Leaders, remember: your title means nothing if you aren’t impacting your team in a positive way. Let’s stop playing the leadership game. Instead, let’s truly value our employees, lead with intention, and watch our businesses flourish from the inside out.