If ever there were a time when we needed inspirational leadership in the workplace (and the world, fingers crossed!), then that time is now!
In these Covidian times of global upheaval and uncertainty, and with all the disruption across 2020, the crucial question is “who is flying the plane?”.
There are all sorts of theories and practice when it comes to leadership. Whole books and courses are devoted to this topic. Of course, there is the sage observation that everyone in a workplace is a leader in some way. This is refreshingly democratic, and there is some truth to that, depending on the culture of your workplace.
As you will see below, I’ve comes up with the following three suggestions for how to be a more inspiring leader of a team, group or organisation.
Please feel free to critique and meaningfully adapt them, so that when you foster such activities in your own workplace micro-climate, they thrive accordingly!
1. Being present
There is a whole range of competing pressures on supervisors and managers. Time, that stone which never stops ever rolling, is a highly precious commodity. The age of Covid has only highlighted this, as we juggle the various roles in our lives.
In such circumstances, sometimes the first thing to be sacrificed, is the amount of time that a leader actually spends with team members. This can happen subconsciously and incrementally, and despite the best of intentions. Clawing back time for yourself as a leader may pay you dividends in the short term, for suddenly, lo and behold, you have more time for all those other things: strategic thinking, getting the ear of your own boss, ‘me time’, et al.
Dare I say, however, your workplace culture is now living on borrowed time.
This is because research shows that teams are more positive and productive when their leader spends more time with them. So many great things happen from this direct connection and conversation. Team leaders get to understand the reality of the challenges, needs and pressures which their team members are facing, and identify how they can assist and support them.
Just simply spending time, whether through informal catch ups, Zoom chats, end/start of week updates, demonstrates that as a leader you genuinely want to know how people are faring, and it also enables you to take proactive steps to fix things quickly. At its heart, this focus is about the leader facilitating and empowering the team to be the best that they can be. You simply cannot be that type of leader from a distance, remotely applying a ‘set and forget’ mentality.
Whether it’s in person, or, in these remote times in Melbourne, if you are looking after a team of people, ask what you can do to be more present with your people? Here’s a tip: if you are unsure, then spend time with them to ask what they think will work best.
2. Ability to receive feedback
So often, as a leader, one gives a whole range of feedback. After all, you are no doubt a technical guru in your field, and have a wealth of experience to draw on. That’s great, you certainly should be comfortable at helping to guide the work quality and output of your team, based on your best practice knowledge.
But (spoiler alert) feedback is not a one way street.
A workplace culture which has a “culture of compliance” is great when the workplace is focused on managing risk. But when a “culture of compliance” is code for “never criticise the boss, even when he/she needs to hear a home truth”, this will inherently impact the future potential success of that team and organisation.
Basically, the goal is about encouraging a more democratic workplace culture. Here, anyone can name concerns and provide suggestions for how to improve things, regardless of their role.
Rather than a ‘shoot the messenger’ approach for that person who may reveal awkward truths to the powerful in a workplace, one should have a leadership mentality that relishes hearing any intel which will lead to further improvements.
One recent example of this, was the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, who upon wishing to ensure that he hears if an idea of his (or anyone else’s) has wings or not, nailed the following mantra to the walls of Netflix: “If you disagree with a Netflix idea and do NOT express that disagreement, you are being disloyal to the company”.
This encourages discussion not only with colleagues, but with anyone in the business, regardless of rank, to ensure constructive and innovative ideas will fly.
3. Say thank you!
Work is not just about the money.
A team that feels it is genuinely appreciated, will not only stick around, but will be even more committed to their work and their workplace. There’s no tax on appreciation (with apologies to all those accountants reading this.) Just make sure it is a meaningful, timely and genuine thank you : whatever way works for that business.
Don’t overdo it, or be too gimmicky or inconsistent. It should be whatever truly resonates for your team and its culture. Maybe a delivery of flowers, chocolate, champagne, fabulous fruit selection (or other helpful offering) on the desk (or front porch) of your team-members for a job/project/month well done, a card saying thank you, a team meeting, congratulations in person, or even, yes, via Zoom. If your team are doing well, then it makes sense, on so many levels, to recognise this. Your team will thank you for it !
These are just three simple suggestions that will have immediate impact. Of course, there is a whole myriad of ways to further tweak leadership in any organisation. Hopefully some of the changes across this year have already helped your team to better thrive.
If you would like to give your managers some inspiration for getting inspired, then our Worklogic course, “Five Essential Management Skills” is just the ticket.
About Grevis Beard
Grevis Beard, Worklogic Director, is a highly experienced and widely respected author, dynamic speaker and trainer, and workplace investigator.
Grevis speaks knowledgeably and diplomatically on how to resolve workplace conflict, manage people risk and build a positive culture at work based on his extensive experience as a lawyer and workplace investigator. Grevis delivers a comprehensive range of in-house training programs designed to help organisations resolve workplace complaints and create a positive culture at work.