What should leaders do more of this year?
The organisational challenges we’ve faced in the last two years have been relentless.
Uncertainty has caused leaders to act quickly, shift focus and be adaptable in order to plan for business survival.
Yet managing this level of uncertainty has also asked our leaders to be authentic, compassionate and transparent people too; qualities that have proven to be every bit as important as their strategic and financial abilities.
It begs the question, what should leaders do more of this year?
From taking micro-breaks and listening to feedback, to championing diversity and supporting female managers, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top lessons that leaders say they’ve learnt in recent times.
Put your people first
Working remotely has posed challenges for leaders used to developing strong teams in a traditional office environment. Alexander Mamasidikov, Cofounder of Mineplex Banking, told Forbes that it’s vital to create a corporate culture at a distance. “Any project is primarily about people, a team, a community,” he said. “You need to value your team and do everything you need to do for everyone’s wellbeing. People are the main asset of the business.”
England made history by reaching the World Cup final for the first time in more than 50 years last summer but the achievement was overshadowed by the racist abuse aimed at three black players. Whilst the widespread public condemnation of the abuse was encouraging, discrimination extends far beyond the football pitch. According to Management Today, research suggests that when multicultural workers miss a deadline or fail at a task, leaders are not in their corner. It has to change.
Can you guess which leadership trait was most commonly cited by employees handing in their notice in 2021? Unapproachability. According to a study by Hub Events, almost half of workers left jobs due to bad leadership, with many preferring to change employer rather than air their concerns to an aggressive or unsympathetic leader. The pandemic has heightened uncertainty and mental ill health among employees, leaders have to consider how to adjust accordingly. It starts with being approachable and listening to feedback.
Cut out the noise
Whilst information can be accessed via multiple sources at the touch of a button, many of us are experiencing ‘information overload’, unsure of which sources to trust or what direction to take next. And therein lies the difference between information and knowledge: at some point, we have to apply information to our specific situation. Marko Vrzic, Principal at real estate investment group, Vrzic told Forbes: “I learned that shutting down 99% of the noise and tuning into the 1% of knowledge will directly affect my growth.”
Support female leaders
Even in leadership roles, women are often report that they are judged more harshly than their male counterparts. Given the well documented challenges faced by women in making it to the very top of business, it’s disheartening that so many cite negative experiences when they get there. Only through proper training and education can stereotypes in the workplace be dismissed and female leaders given the support they need to thrive.
Take a break
The Journal of Applied Psychology recently published research that found that tired workers are more likely to take short breaks throughout the day. Rather than rebuking employees for slacking off by getting another round of tea, perhaps it’s time to take a different approach? Micro-breaks can actually improve engagement and performance levels, by boosting the health and wellbeing of our teams. There’s room for leaders to follow suit.
Embrace your inner acrobat
Before the pandemic, change was almost certainly something that leaders ‘did’ to other people. It has often resulted in employees becoming more effective at adopting new working habits, patterns and technologies than their bosses. As Julian Birkinshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at LBS told The Times, that we need to stretch ourselves: “Covid has presented a great opportunity for a reset and to re-engineer the way we do work. rather than just going on giving smart people traditional jobs to do.”