In today’s challenging economy and the rise of a fickle and unstable workforce, leadership skills are more important than ever to combat the costs of high staff turnover. The new generation workforce have different values and expectations, and if their needs are not met, they walk.
Many companies can’t afford bonuses and extra perks to keep their trained workers and have to use other “enticements” to attract and keep their workforce, and they rely on strong, confident leaders to lead the way and achieve these miracles.
(Studies have shown it can cost in the region of US $17k to replace the average worker, more if it is a supervisor or manager. The true cost is much more – there are the costs of hiring a replacement, the cost of training the new employee and the cost to the company in terms of inefficiencies and lower productivity during their learning phase. It is a cost center that no business can afford to ignore.)
This is a challenge even for the most experienced, well trained leader, but for somebody who has been promoted into a leadership position based only on their expertise in their job and who has no leadership skills or training, it can be an exercise in disaster.
It also spells trouble for the small business owner who built his business up from a one-person operation to hiring employees and he also has no skills or experience in leading them. And it’s hard to get commitment and initiative from employees who may have become accustomed to being used up and laid off.
If you don’t know how to lead, it can be like driving your car blind-folded with passengers in the back. You may have an idea of the general direction you should all be going, but you can’t be sure, and you can end up anywhere. You can crash the car. Worse, your vehicle risks damage and your passengers risk injury and may be prone to jump out at the next stop. Employees can spot a poor driver (Leader) a mile away and won’t stick around waiting for the “crash”.
The key to great leadership is confidence and being the type of leader that others want to follow because they know where they are going and will take you with them, safely. Great leadership is knowing how to motivate your workforce so they do what you want them to do because they are inspired to do it. Great leaders don’t need to dangle carrots or perks and more money to motivate and keep their workers.
Today’s successful leaders know:
- Creating more structure and putting systems in place allows everyone the freedom to just get on and do their job, correctly, without fear of being micromanaged.
- Delegation empowers. They relinquish the need to always be in control by ensuring those they delegate to have the tools and training to know what is required of them and the freedom to do it. The leader has competent subordinates trained and able to make decisions in his absence.
- Certainty about what is required of themselves as leader and those they lead is essential. They are insightful and discerning and have learned the skills of decision making and problem solving.
- Clarity about their role, desired outcomes, and where they are headed – it is knowing clearly where you fit into the larger picture, knowing you and your team’s strengths and weaknesses and being very clear about what you have to work with and how you can develop and build on it.
- Capability and your effectiveness in the basics, such as communication skills, decision making, problem solving, delegation, and visionary thinking are the building blocks to success.
- Teams are groups of individuals doing their own thing but whose joint efforts combine to produce the desired outcome. A good leader can communicate the big picture to each individual so they understand how their unique contribution enables the “team” to achieve their objectives.
- Offering a clean slate commitment – this is wiping the slate clean so all employees from that point onwards can start afresh with new directives, new goals, and new confidence knowing their past mistakes are forgiven and are no longer hanging over them with negative influence.
- Checking-in and debriefing key decisions to monitor and provide feedback instills confidence in the worker and is sufficient to establish trust.
By Aaron Cook