Now is the time to LEAD!
The US economy is gradually recovering from the downturn, and business leadership is more important than ever before. Although several sectors have begun to rebound, profitability remains slow and fragile for many companies. As the recovery gains momentum, the responsibilities of good leadership increasingly shifts from allaying employee fears and stakeholder concerns to inspiring confidence in future prospects. Managers who adapt to these changing trends stand the best chance of leading their organizations into a position of financial strength.
Between 2007 and 2008, declining revenues and rising unemployment resulted in a severe drop in confidence for business leaders. Many people began to question the policies and management decisions made by executives. A November 2009 study from the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School found that 69% of Americans believe there is a leadership crisis in the country today, down from 80% the previous year and the lowest level of concern since 2005-2006.
Confidence in business leadership is generally on the rise, with more employees believing that managers are steering their companies in the right direction. In the most recent leadership confidence index from executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International, business leaders' credibility rose 2 points in the last quarter of 2009, while confidence in the direction of leadership climbed 3.5 points. Employees' confidence in their boss's leadership ability gained 3 index points, and executives' confidence in their own leadership qualities gained 1 point. Managerial roles have become less about maintaining cohesion amid a dire business climate and more about laying the foundation for expansion and greater profitability.
The most important leadership qualities today are strategic skills, though personal and interpersonal skills have become increasingly important as well. The first step for a manager cultivating leadership qualities is to remain open-minded about the changing business landscape.
"Adopting new strategies and approaches can require letting go of some old attitudes, habits, or behaviors," BusinessWeek explains. "If something isn't serving the business well, be willing to give it up. There is great power is purging, and you'll make room for better ways of working."
Given that strategic skills are highly valued in today's leadership, BusinessWeek recommends that leaders focus on "big-picture" goals and avoid specific tactical decisions until a clear objective is defined. Making an effort not to overanalyze can allow for swifter and smarter decision making.
Another useful concept is distinguishing between management and leadership, learning how the two complement each other to create an effective work environment.
According to Entreprenuer.com, "Management involves putting the right people into the right places with the right resources. Leadership is about turning those right peopleloose by setting high expectations, providing coaching and acknowledging achievement."
Management provides structure and stability, while leadership provides inspiration and influence. Both are necessary for a successful workplace. When
properly combined, these qualities drive an organization to a higher standard of performance.
The advantages of good leadership are especially apparent in a team setting. Good leaders ensure that when a team does well, each member receives credit, and when performance is lacking, every member shares responsibility for the failure.
Employees need to know that the survival and success of the company depends on them as much as on the senior executives. The main qualities that erode confidence in a leader are as revealing as those that strengthen it. A new survey from CareerBuilder.com shows 23% of workers rate their company leaders as "poor" or "very poor." The main concerns employees currently have with senior management are an inability to address employee morale (35%), a lack of transparency (30%), and major changes being implemented without warning (28%).
These issues are likely to become more important as the economic recovery picks up. Rebuilding morale requires leaders to focus on ways to motivate their employees, and the key to this could lie in understanding the power of progress.
According to a recent study from the Harvard Business Review, creating a sense of progress and support for overcoming obstacles is the most effective method for giving employees a positive outlook on their jobs and driving them to succeed in their efforts. By proving meaningful goals, resources and encouragement, today's leaders can take control of worker motivation and boost morale.
A high-ranking manager takes great care to clarify overall goals, ensures that people's efforts are properly supported, and refrains from exerting time pressure so intense that minor glitches are perceived as crises rather than learning opportunities. Cultivate a culture of helpfulness. Facilitate progress in a more direct way - roll up your sleeves and pitch in. All these efforts will not only keep people working with gusto, but also get the job done faster.
Good leadership can be fostered at each level within an organization. Human resources consultancy Compensation Today suggests that companies seeking to improve their leadership or increase talent retention consider a leadership development program, which may improve employee engagement across the board.
Managers who become leaders inspire employees, support creativity, and produce a sense of progress in their workers' day-to-day projects. This transition is likely to prove a priority through the coming year, particularly as more businesses recover from the downturn and prepare for growth.
Do you treat people with sincerity and respect when you first meet them? Do you help them grow and prosper, and enhance their value to the organization? Do you make them feel like a part of an important team? If your answers are "yes," most people would want to work for you.
Call to learn more about Turbo's motivational workshop,
"4 H's - How to Engage the Heart of Your Team".
This is a great way to engage your team!