As you can imagine there has been lots of research conducted on leadership. And more specifically, what great leaders are doing to create a team of people who are more productive, engaged and innovative. Here’s what the research has discovered.
1. Great leaders spend more time speaking with their people. They find time for their staff; they are “good people people”, they are approachable and take a genuine interest in how staff are doing. They treat staff well on a consistent basis and support team members with challenges they may be having at work or at home.
2. Great leaders have clear values and practice what they preach. Don’t you love seeing leaders who set the example for the behavior they want to see? Those who find the time for people when they say relationships are important; those who are creative when they are wanting to encourage innovation or those that model the respectful behavior they want to see throughout the organization?
3. Great leaders give employees opportunities to lead work assignments and activities. They find out which team members would like more responsibility, what type of challenge or project they would like to take on and and support them in doing so. Even staff that are most busy will often volunteer to take on more!
4. Great leaders encourage employee development and learning. Even when the workplace is high performing and doing well, that is exactly the right time for training. Leaders know that most people want to grow and excel at what they do. Supporting staff in developing their skills also sends a clear message that they are valued.
5. Great leaders welcome criticism and feedback as opportunities to learn. They make it easy for team members to raise concerns, often asking for feedback both formally (as part of regular meetings) and informally (surveys or fireside chats). Leaders also take time to thank employees when they have raised concerns, often making team members more open to feedback themselves.
6. Great leaders give increased recognition and acknowledgement to employees. They genuinely appreciate their people and the efforts they put in and make a point of letting them know. Getting to know how your team members like to be appreciated is important as well; some like a simple thanks, others a new opportunity while others want to be left alone and trusted to continue to do their good work.
7. Great leaders have a clear vision and goals for the future. People gain a lot of certainty from knowing the overall direction the workplace is heading and specific goals that indicate progress in this direction. Employees and team members also need to know their part in helping to achieve goals.
8. Finally, great leaders are innovative and encourage team members to consider problems as opportunities. They actively encourage team members to experiment with new approaches, and failure, if it happens is seen as a positive thing ~ a sign innovation is taking place! One of the additional benefits of innovation is that it encourages a culture where people are more receptive to change.
As a leader, how are you doing in these areas? Is there one thing that you might change that will lift your performance to the next level as you continue in your leadership role? Taking one step to be a better leader will make a difference not only for you but also for your amazing team.