What it is:
Leadership can refer to leaders in a hierarchical structure (senior leaders, middle management, direct managers, etc.). It can also refer to taking a leadership role in a project or on a team, regardless of one’s official title or position.
Research shows that traditional leadership practices are becoming outdated. The modern workplace is evolving, with employees who are more mobile, more deskless, and increasingly diverse. Gone are the days where employees needed a leader to tell them what time to come in, and what to work on. Millennials and Gen Zers, in particular, are not interested in organizations where hierarchy, structure, and micro-management rule. They don’t want to work for a company where a small percentage of leaders hold a high percentage of decision-making power. Instead, they look to organizations where leaders inspire and influence great work, mentor and coach their people, and connect their teams to the organization.
“Boomers have been autocratic leaders that are all about command, control and policies, such as working nine-to-five. Millennials want to create a more collaborative environment where they exchange ideas with peers and accomplish a mission instead of a corporate culture that’s rigid with policies and procedures.”
Great leaders connect their people: to a purpose, accomplishment, and one another. They show why their employees’ work makes a difference. They help them achieve success, recognize their great work, and foster a sense of belonging. The best leaders build a workplace culture where employees can thrive.
How it impacts culture:
Leadership plays a crucial role in building company culture, as they set the tone of the workplace and impact many areas of the employee experience. They are the foundation of where essential elements of corporate culture come from: purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, leadership is going through a crisis. Less than half of employees feel their leader works to develop them. Only 26% feel their leader encourages collaboration, with over half saying their leader won’t give up control over anything. Only 59% believe their leader values them, and 1 in 5 say their leader regularly expresses doubts about them.
Companies with leaders that have “traditional” leadership styles see lower scores on workplace culture, their employee experience, and business results, and have higher rates of burnout.
But great leaders who connect their people see tremendous results.
When leaders connect their people to purpose, employees are:
• 373% more likely to have a strong sense of purpose
• 747% more likely to be highly engaged
• 49% less likely to burn out.
When leaders connect their people to accomplishment, there is a:
• 259% increase in odds an employee will have a strong sense of opportunity
• 247% increase in odds an employee will do great work
• 46% less likely to burn out.
When leaders connect their people to one another, they see a:
• 156% increase in odds an employee will have a strong sense of wellbeing
• 374% increase in odds an employee will feel appreciated
• 43% less likely to burn out.
When leaders do all 3, there is:
• 250% greater odds an employee will be a promoter
• 405% greater odds an employee will highly rate their employee experience
• 845% greater odds an employee will be engaged
• 1,674% greater odds an employee will have a strong sense of leadership
• 56% reduction in burnout
How to do it well:
Leaders must move beyond the traditional style of leadership and become advocates for their people:
1) Provide mentorship and inspiration, rather than micro-management. Provide input and advice throughout a project when needed and then get out of the way. Show you trust and value your people and teams. Empower them to make their own decisions and be autonomous, and then inspire and cheer them on.
2) Utilize shared leadership. It can’t be just the leader who makes decisions. Give your people a voice and a seat at the table. Ask them for their ideas and insight and let them take the reins to lead. Encourage them to take risks and fail in order to innovate.
3) Connect employees to purpose, accomplishment, and one another. Show how an employee’s specific work helps your customers. Publicly recognize their successes. Help them build their own social networks by connecting them to peers and leaders outside of their workgroups and around the company. Employees who feel connected are more motivated to innovate and help the company succeed. They will also become more loyal to your organization.
Find out how to be a leader your employees never want to leave.
“Success is best when it's shared.”
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