According to John C. Maxwell, everything rises and falls on leadership, so when I see a hashtag like #horriblebosses, #toxicworkplace trending it sends chills down my spine. A leader is more than someone who has followers.
Leadership is about much more than top-down policy making. It flows throughout organisations and can make or break your company. We all know leadership – good or bad – when we experience it. But what exactly is it?
There are as many different ideas of what a leader is as there are types of leadership. But fundamentally, leaders create a vision and then enlist people to help them realise it. I am not an expert but if I know anything about leadership it is that it involves people and we all know the saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
What makes an effective leader?
While leadership is often associated with C-suite job titles, it’s not so much about someone’s role as their attitude and behaviour.
Effective leaders have the ability to communicate well, motivate their team, handle and delegate responsibilities, listen to feedback, and have the flexibility to solve problems in an ever-changing workplace.
Why is leadership important?
Leaders matter: they inspire people, motivate them to perform to a higher level, and embody company values and culture. Effective leadership will:
Improve morale: There’s a strong relationship between leadership and employee morale, especially in times of change. Leaders who keep staff informed, set a clear vision, shows they are caring and are open and honest are associated with high satisfaction levels. They also reduce people’s intentions to leave the organization/company.
Boost engagement: Trust in leaders is one of the top factors cited in helping improve employee engagement. Employees want to be supervised by a highly engage leadership teams. A leader who engages them not just about the job but stuff that concerns them outside the job (family life etc).
Build connectedness: Building trusting relationships between leaders and teams doesn’t just benefit that leader. It helps create a culture of openness and trust throughout the organisation. Currently, CEO leaders and businesses are enjoying higher levels of trust than their politician counterparts – something organizations need to capitalize on.
Inspire confidence: Influential leaders inspire people to feel confident in their abilities and their work. This has the knock-on effects of improved productivity and better-quality products and services. The mental state of your team should be important as they will give their best when they feel good about themselves
Create a positive organisational culture: Leaders are key conduits of organizational culture, both creating and sharing the feeling of what it’s like to work for your particular organization. Leaders set the tone, both for the overall organisation and their teams.
Enable innovation: Innovation involves change, which isn’t always easy. Effective leadership is essential to steer employees smoothly through the process – as McKinsey puts it, to “encourage employees to win over hearts and minds.”
While great leadership can have a great effect on an organisation, poor leadership can be hugely damaging, and can results to;
Low morale: If people feel unappreciated or even bullied, it will impact their wellness as well as their productivity. Plus, it will make them more likely to quit.
High employee turnover: Nearly half of the people will quit their job because of a bad manager. If the work culture or the environment is toxic people are more likely to quit than stay, and considering that it cost an average company a lot to hire new employee. Poor leadership can prove very expensive.
Poor performance: Productivity and performance are often the measures of a company’s success. According to one study, people led by uninspiring leaders have a 93 percent chance of being rated in the bottom 10 percent on productivity.
Unmanageable ‘unofficial’ leaders
When leaders are weak, authoritarian or aloof, other people will step in to fill the gap. These ‘unofficial’ leaders are often popular but won’t necessarily sign up to the organisation’s values or be critical and negative. Letting this negativity get a foothold in the organisation can accelerate the growth of toxic workplace culture.
Toxic workplace culture
Leaders who bully contribute to a negative culture, making coming to work an unpleasant experience. This can lead to high staff turnover and poor service, eventually impairing the performance of the whole company.
Two top leadership skills that make a strong leader in the workplace
Communication: As a leader, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your employees’ organisational goals and specific tasks. You must master all forms of communication, including one-on-one, as well as communication via the phone, email, video, chat, and social media.
A large part of communication involves listening. Leaders should make themselves regularly available to discuss issues and concerns with employees
Delegating: Leaders who try to take on too many tasks by themselves will struggle to get anything done. These leaders often fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when it actually can be a sign of a strong leader and in this day and time of technology, you can need to delegate and oversee.
There are technologies that have been built to help you manage your business on the go. So, you can actually be anywhere in the world and manage your business on the go. It is called business automation.
Isiah, a communications strategist, writes from Lagos