Leadership 101: How to be a Great Leader and Drive Employee Commitment
26.08.18 Filed in: Leadership
By Steph Andel
To be a great leader, you have to first understand what a leader is. So, what is a leader? When we say leadership, what do we mean? Although these seem like simple questions, there are actually “as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concepts” according to renowned psychologist Ralph M. Stogdill. While narrowing down leadership to just one definition is difficult, we believe leadership can be broadly defined through its distinction from basic management. Specifically, true leaders obtain commitment from employees, whereas basic managers merely obtain compliance. The heart of this difference lies in the particular behaviors demonstrated by leaders.
So, you might ask, why do you want commitment over compliance? Great question! When employees are committed, they are intrinsically motivated to succeed. They show greater dedication and better performance, not because they have to but because they want to. There are a few different research-backed behaviors that convey true leadership and help to ensure that your employees are focused, committed, and engaged:
Our Top 5 Leadership Behaviors
1. Be a great role model – Far too often, those in charge fail to “practice what they preach” when it comes to following organizational practices, policies, and procedures. However, as a leader, you are the one that everyone is looking up to as an example! True leaders know how make the most of this influence by consistently modeling proper performance at work. For example, if your company has areas that require specific personal protection equipment (e.g., earplugs, hard hats), be sure to follow the rules! Do not act as if you are an exception. If you don’t follow protocol, you can’t expect that your employees will, either. And remember, even when you’re not officially the focus your people are still looking to you so keep your behavior consistent.
2. Inspire ownership & involvement – Effective leaders aim to motivate employees by inspiring confidence, empowerment, and purpose. This means making sure that all of your employees are on the same page when it comes to the core values, objectives, and ethics of your team. This also means that employees should feel welcome to voice their opinions and ownership in the ever-evolving process of making their work a better place. Purposefully take time in your day to inspire success through touchpoints like all-hands meetings, weekly brainstorming sessions, and being visible and accessible for informal solicitations of feedback from all employees.
3. Know your people. All of them. – Taking the time to better understand your employees as people, rather then merely workers, goes a long way. By showing genuine concern for and interest in each employee, you demonstrate that you care about their well-being, and appreciate all of their efforts. When people feel appreciated, they are more committed and dedicated. Show that you care by remembering every employees’ name (this one is important!) and take the time to ask each and every one of them how they are doing. Just taking a couple of minutes each week to check in with your employees will be greatly appreciated!
4. Set big goals – Work feels like a job without something big to work towards. Leaders recognize the importance of goal-setting, and make sure to consistently incorporate this important exercise into the workday. Goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound) are the best. Set aside time in weekly group meetings, as well as with each employee individually, to decide on challenging yet achievable goals together. Don’t leave goal-setting for annual performance reviews – it’s too important and it’s is not enough to motivate effective performance. Setting goals should be something that is done year-round.
5. Celebrate wins – Unfortunately, it is common for managers to focus on correcting poor performance rather than rewarding success. Who doesn’t want to help their employees get better? But this is a fatal mistake that encourages employees to focus on avoiding mistakes rather than on taking risks, innovating and achieving positive outcomes. Shift your tone by proactively acknowledging the hard work of your employees. For example, reward top-performing employees with acknowledgements such as “Associate of the Month”, or provide employees with a time as a team over a meal or activity to champion successes. It’s important to note that rewards don’t have to involve tangible prizes – even just verbal recognition of employee achievements will go a very long way. By focusing on achievements rather than solely on mistakes, you will foster a safe environment that stimulates drive and success.
Becoming a great leader can take some time and concentration, but it is worth the effort. Effective leadership is critical for the success of your employees and organization at large. By taking the time to adopt the above practices and behaviors, you will shift your employees’ feelings of ownership and engagement within their roles. You will inspire and mobilize action among your employees, and will likely see an increase in speaking up, ownership in their roles, and willingness to proactively solve problems.
At Propulo, we work hand-in-hand with organizations that want to drive improved leaders. If your business is interested in generating authentic and aligned leaders, we’d love to discuss our innovative ‘People Meet Process’ approach, and how we might be able to help you.