In recent years, the role of the leader in the workplace has shifted. No longer sitting alone in an office behind closed doors, forward-thinking leaders are immersed within the rest of their team, walking the walk instead of just talking the talk.
At most firms, the focus isn’t just on the figurehead of the group; much more emphasis is being placed on empowering employees to become more independent and accountable for their actions. Employees want to feel heard, understood and inspired by their senior leadership team, regardless of what generation they’re part of.
So, what skills do leaders need to hone to motivate and encourage their teams to succeed?
Upon reflection, you may realise that you’re usually the one leading a majority of important conversations in the workplace. But what about talking a step back and listening to what’s happening around you? You may well be the most experienced person in the room, but that’s not to say that you can’t learn from your employees too.
In essence, your role as leader is to provide strategic direction to steer your team along the right path. Trust that they’re able to work on their own initiative and ask for help when it’s needed. And, by seeing how they approach a task differently to how you would, you may just find that they’ve opened your eyes to a more efficient or unexpected way of working.
Alongside active listening skills, the ability to empathise with others’ perspectives will prove invaluable to any leader. When faced with difficult situations, you’ll need to choose your actions and tone of voice carefully; empathy is the tool that will enable you to do this. Allowing yourself to show some vulnerability will help you to build stronger, grounded relationships with your colleagues and show that you don’t have all the answers – and that’s ok.
If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it may feel uncomfortable at first. Try to give your full attention to the person you’re talking to, and notice the tone of voice they’re using and how their body language compares to what they’re saying. Allow the conversation to flow naturally, giving the other person plenty of time to express how they feel.
For an employee to feel empowered, they need to see that their managers are open to new ideas and willing to change when necessary. In team meetings, try initiating discussions about new ideas you’ve had for the business and where you see it heading in the future. Ensure that you’re considering your team’s feedback, even if you’re not openly acting on it.
Trustworthy, supportive managers will not only gain the respect of their staff, but they’ll encourage them to produce higher quality results too. Delegating tasks to others, rather than taking them on yourself, can help give employees a sense of ownership over their work and can be a brilliant motivator to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Recognise the effort they’re putting in, reward their hard work and you’ll reap the rewards.