We cannot emphasize it enough—leaders are a crucial part of the employee experience and play a critical role in building thriving workplace cultures. While there are many other important influencers, few affect so many elements of the employee experience..
Too many leaders are promoted to their roles because they are great individual contributors. They do exceptional work. But they may not know how to lead. Some make the transition easily. Others micromanage their people, or worse, intimidate and belittle them, dictating how they do their jobs and taking credit for their success.
Great leaders inspire their people. They are influencers of great work, rather than doers. They are mentors and coaches. They know when people need guidance and when they need autonomy. They set meaningful purposes and empower their teams to fulfill them by fighting for resources. Few leaders arrive on the job knowing how to do all these things. But with the right help from their organizations, any leader can become a great leader. Here’s how:
1. Provide direction for new leaders. Companies should be prepared to train new managers on modern leadership skills and the importance of things like recognition and wellbeing. Never assume they automatically know how to lead. They need coaching and mentorship, just like their teams.
2. Support leaders with the right resources. Like ongoing leadership training and development, mentorship opportunities, adequate budgets and equipment for their teams, and the technology to connect with their teams and recognize great work as it happens. Leaders shouldn’t have to ask where to go when they need support. They should have the tools to succeed at their fingertips.
3. Help leaders feel connected. We expect our leaders to connect their people to a purpose, accomplishment, and one another. But do we do the same for our leaders? Make sure you are helping your leaders connect to your organization’s purpose, find success, and build bonds with other leaders. Provide networking and mentorship opportunities for them so they have a chance to develop social ties.
Finally, don’t forget the human element. Leaders have an employee experience, just like their direct reports. They have peak and valley experiences. They are affected by your company’s culture. Remember to check in with your leaders, have one-to-ones with them, keep an eye out for burnout, and foster their wellbeing. Leadership’s responsibilities will only increase as we expect them to evolve from traditional leadership to a more modern style that can inspire and engage today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce. Craft a workplace culture that helps both your leaders, and their people, thrive at work.
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