Written by: Adam Lloyd
There is a leadership CRISIS in the world today, at least according to 86% of those surveyed on a Global Agenda study from the World Economic Forum. Although the issues and people being led may not relate directly to the leadership agenda of corporate executives, it appears the priorities for turning this statistic around apply without a doubt.
“In 2016, I vow not to appease, to embrace the value and differences of our people and to authenticate myself and the company to the best of my ability.” – said nobody.
This is not an inspiring line or resolution you heard coming into ’16, but it should have been. It should have caught on, or at least something similar to it. This could have been the type of statement made by leaders that would have resonated with the 86% that currently disapprove of world leaders. It surfaces the traits that are those desired in leaders today, and which will set the pace for 2016.
When those surveyed started to look deeper into these characteristics and actions that leaders needed to win back the people, they crafted a list that is eerily similar to what defines many successful and well-followed corporate executives. They found a necessary shift in priorities that needs to take place, from financial and metric issues to human concerns. Maybe not necessarily a co-op model, but a co-op type of mindset. Great leaders make decisions, but more weight needs to come from the individuals that make up the company. Considering their demands for world leaders and a separate set of necessary requirements for corporate executives, the core of priorities were all centered on people and the ability to work together.
These are a few of the elements all leaders looking to have an impactful 2016 should consider when working with their best assets, employees:
Inclusion of opinions and viewpoints in decision making
Leaders have a great ideas, they motivate, teach and build winning teams. Exceptional leaders understand how to promote an environment that generates creativity and innovation from the employees. It’s done by example first, authentic and transparent behavior, that is then encouraged to be followed and imbedded in the culture. The result is a workplace where it is not just accepted, but encouraged to be yourself and to speak up. This is where diverse strengths in experiences and thought are surfaced and morale is built by employees feeling valued by the company.
Exceptional leaders do this by getting in the trenches, talking from the bottom to the top of the organization and by encouraging collaborative internal meetings and open door policies for management teams. Not listening to the people was a major gap amongst world leaders in the survey, if only they realized the major asset they’re not tapping.
Setting the stage for collaboration
Encouraging free-speech and challenging existing behavior is the first step in embracing the intellectual and creative capital of the organization, but the platforms must be built to spark dialogue and channel innovation. The key? Leveraging the diverse make-up of individuals while balancing propriety information and ethical standards. There is a risk to having too lenient of data and idea sharing externally. Once the balance is found and employees feel comfortable, how do you organize the way ideas are exchanged and put into execution and continue to promote it?
Productivity and morale increases in team structures versus the old individual contributor model of silos. Millennials, which will make up half of the workforce by 2020, prefer working in teams and countless studies have demonstrated the creative impact of working together to complete projects. One of the continued goals of leaders today will be leveraging cross-functional opportunities between teams, and finding ways to incentivize and encourage opportunistic thinking. If an engineering firm wins the bid for a major environmental project, it should be thinking how it can leverage other areas of the business (infrastructure to build roads, energy, oil & gas, etc.). Teams need to be encouraged to not only create within the group dynamic, but also look for opportunities outside and across the organization. Tools that enable communication outside of the work environment, across regions and business segments such as group chats, social intranet, videoconferencing and access to travel will need to be in place to allow a true exchange of ideas to flow and reach all areas of the organization.
Cohesive execution and resilience
With a team environment that is properly structured and supported to collaborate and idea-share easily, there will be an increased willingness and comradery amongst employees to divvy up reward equally, fail together, bounce back together. Leaders can help promote this level of team productivity by setting departmental goals, reviews and objectives; rather than looking solely to individuals. We may see more group reviews in the future as a result. This benefits the employee mindset as it’s much easier for employees to push their thinking capability and workload when they are accountable and working alongside a team. Support mechanisms work in all aspects of life and people like to be part of something larger than themselves. Why not in work?
The Global Agenda respondents realize this and this is why promoting team accountability will be such an important aspect to what is reviewed as successful leadership. As the millennials continue to multiply within the workforce, now’s the time to have a work environment that is operating fluidly in this type of structure.
There will always be managers and executives at the top of organizations, but the ones that can engage and inspire more flatly will see success come from the people they lead.