On being a leader who delivers lasting value to their team
In research conducted in 2015, Gallup found that about 50% of more than 7200 adults asked, had left a job because of their manager. Wall Street Journal published an article based on the Gallup research and noted; That supports the old cliché; people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers.
This research opens up the questions; When was the last time you considered why anyone should choose you as their leader? And, what value do you deliver to your team members as their leader?
In our work with leaders all over the world for the past 15 years, we have found that little if any attention has been given to the above questions in most companies. Leaders have not been actively engaged in a conversation on their role as a leader of people. Often, the focus has been on leading projects and getting results. We have found that managers focus more on the question “why should I (as a leader) choose to have a particular person on my team?” than “why anyone should choose you as their leader?” And furthermore “How can I as a leader make sure I have the right resources to deliver the results the company aims for?”.
How do we explain why this is still the preferred view point of managers today? We have worked with thousands of leaders and THE most common, greatest challenge they report to us is how to find out what drives and motivates people and how to adjust their leadership style accordingly. Managers also explain something they find as important, is to be able to this, whilst juggling all the responsibilities and complexities of the job. This is indeed quite a challenge!
What is your leadership style?
For the past few years, an increasing trend of leadership based on intention, self-knowledge and purpose has emerged. We see leaders asking themselves questions like, ‘why have I chosen to be a leader?’, ‘what do I want to achieve as a leader?’ and ‘what impact does my leadership style have on the people around me?’. All these questions point to an increasing awareness in leaders today that supports the way they view their role; to be a ‘growth stimulator’ for their team members.
Numerous books have been written on leadership styles over the years. Different styles work for different environments and tasks but we assume here that the common factor in leadership is always; to bring the best out in people. Some styles can be described as follows, somewhat based on the definitions by Peter Sims and Bill Georges in their book “True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership”;
The “Laissez-Faire” leader
A laissez-faire leader lacks direct supervision of employees and fails to provide regular feedback to those under his supervision. Highly experienced and trained employees requiring little supervision fall under the laissez-faire leadership style. However, not all employees possess those characteristics. This leadership style hinders the production of employees needing supervision. The laissez-faire style produces no leadership or supervision efforts from managers, which can lead to poor production, lack of control and increasing costs.
The autocratic leadership style allows managers to make decisions alone without the input of others. Managers possess total authority and impose their will on employees. Nobody challenges the decisions of autocratic leaders. Countries such as Cuba and North Korea operate under an autocratic leadership style. This leadership style benefits employees who require close supervision. Creative employees who thrive in groups, detest this leadership style.
Often called the democratic leadership style, participative leadership values the input of team members and peers, but the responsibility of making the final decision rests with the participative leader. Participative leadership can boost employee morale because employees make contributions to the decision-making process. It causes them to feel as if their opinions matter. When a company needs to make changes within the organisation, the participative leadership style helps employees accept changes easily because they play a role in the process. This style meets challenges when companies need to make a decision in a short period.
Managers using the transactional leadership style receive certain tasks to perform and provide rewards or punishments to team members based on performance results. Managers and team members set predetermined goals together, and employees agree to follow the direction and leadership of the manager to accomplish those goals. Not much room is left for their own discovery and growth. The manager possesses power to review results and train or correct employees when team members fail to meet goals. Employees receive rewards, such as bonuses, when they accomplish goals.
The transformational leadership style depends on high levels of communication from management to meet goals. Leaders motivate employees and enhance productivity and efficiency through communication and high visibility. This style of leadership requires the involvement of management to meet goals but also the active support and inspiration for their team members. Transformational leaders focus on the big picture within an organisation and delegate smaller tasks to the team to accomplish goals. Team members experience their own growth and development and have the freedom to decide their own ways towards the common goal.
By adopting the transformational leadership style, the leader shifts the focus from tasks onto people and their development. They are humble in their approach which helps to release the power of the wisdom and experience that is found within every team member. The knowledge worker of today wants stimulation, they are likely to choose an environment that challenges them, and supports their growth and development both from a professional and personal perspective. Growth of the team stems from the opportunities delivered by their leader who creates a problem-solving environment that makes use of the team’s knowledge to a greater extent. The way to do this is to support people to find their own solutions. This helps to ensure they realise their potential, which benefits both the individual’s personal growth and the companies’. To be able to meet those requirements, leaders of today need to adopt an open approach, being willing to adjust their methods with the growth of each member of their team in mind. The main role of the leader is to bring out the best in people. What allows the leader to stay open is a combination of their humility, backed up by the beliefs that there are always better ideas out there somewhere AND that he himself does not have all the answers.
The transformational leader focuses on developing more leaders within the team; as a successful leader, they do not create followers, they create more leaders. That creates long-lasting value to all parties.
Author: Helga Johanna Oddsdottir