‘More than 1,000 executives worldwide identified the issues they expect to command their attention in the coming year. The biggest challenge found? It’s developing, attracting, and retaining “next gen” leaders faced with the immense responsibility of staying competitive as the digital disruption continues to transform the workplace.’ (Schwantes, 2018). Leaders need to have both hard skills and soft skills to succeed in their role in a company and in engaging employees. They need to build trust through honesty, be humble in their demeanour, be supportive and consistent in their approach, and ensure that everything they do is with integrity. They also need to be able to inspire their employees (Tredgold, 2013). Leaders need to be willing to listen and learn, have a hands-on approach, pay attention to and have a passion for their job. They must have the ability to delegate but also be able to make decisions and think differently when needed (Half, 2016). Lolly Daskal lists a number of attributes that she believes are necessary for great leadership. These include leaders not relying on what they know but constantly working to improve what they do and who they are. Leaders know to predict, formulate and expedite. They also know how to motivate employees, and trust and manage their employees (Daskal, 2017). Leadership styles vary from company to company but as the workforce changes leadership needs to do the same. Leaders need to be digitally knowledgeable to keep up with changes in technology and emerging technology as it enters the workplace (Schwantes, 2018). Even leaders need to learn and by adopting a culture of continuous learning they are showing their employees that it is all right to admit you don’t know everything but are willing to learn to fill the gaps in your knowledge-base. This also gives an excellent opportunity for reverse mentoring where they can learn from the younger generations entering the workforce with the knowledge required (CEB Gartner, 2018). Of particular importance is the role of the Direct Manager or Supervisor. They play a critical part in the life of the employee. How they lead will reflect on the performance of their team; it will determine how well the employee will fit in and engage in the job. If they micro-manage their staff this will lead to resentment (Breevaart et al., 2014, pp. 138-157). However, if they offer autonomy in certain areas and trust their team to make the right decisions this will build the confidence of the team members and lead to improved productivity. Their values should reflect those of the company leaders. They should be open and authentic in their communication, encourage a team spirit and coach the employee in their development. As the team leader they are the person who will build the team, set their goals, share their vision and encourage the team to succeed (Robertson-Smith, 2009). Displaying their human side and having empathy for their team members will encourage their employees to reciprocate. Employees should also feel that they can speak freely and have confidential discussions with their direct manager or supervisor that will go no further. Supervisors are accountable for how their team performs, so a poor result reflects badly on them and their leadership ability.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how leadership plays a part in the Employee Experience. Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare.
Breevaart, Kimberley; Bakker, Arnold; Hetland, Jørn; Demerouti, Evangelia; Olsen, Olav K.; Espevik, Roar. (2014) ‘Daily transactional and transformational leadership and daily employee engagement’, Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 87(1), pp. 138-157.
CEB Gartner (2018 The CEO 20 Pulse on the Future of Work. Available at: https://www.cebglobal.com/member/corporate-leadership-council/benchmarks/benchmarks/the-ceo-20-pulse-on-the-future-of-work.html (Accessed: 1 March 2018).
Daskal, L. (2017) 7 Things You Need to Know to Improve Your Leadership Style [Online]. Available at: https://www.lollydaskal.com/leadership/7-things-need-know-improve-leadership-style/ (Accessed: 16 May 2018).
Robertson-Smith, G., Markwick, C. (2009) Employee Engagement A review of current thinking [Online]. Available at: http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/system/files/resources/files/469.pdf (Accessed: 8 November 2017).
Schwantes, M. (2018) You’ll Need 6 Super Important Skills to Succeed as a Leader in the Age of Machines. Says Research. Available at: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/youll-need-6-super-important-skills-to-succeed-as-a-leader-in-age-of-machines-says-research.html. (Accessed: 19 April 2018).
Tredgold, G. (2013) Leadership Qualities [Online]. Available at: http://gordontredgold.com/2013/06/03/leadership-qualities/ (Accessed: 16 May 2018).