Gone are the days when the manager called the shots from a corner office.
Today’s workforce is increasingly composed of teams, and the best companies trust these teams to make their own decisions, call the shots, and design their own strategies—to great success. That’s not to say that leadership is dead by any means. But to become truly successful, we must view leadership in a different way.
The importance of leadership in today’s workforce
While a more junior team of newer employees might require a more hands on leadership style, this isn’t the best form of leadership in the vast majority of cases. For teams that can handle their own workload and strategies, trust is vital. And for teams that can’t yet perform to this standard, it’s just as vital to help them hone their skills to the point where they can.
So, what does that look like?
The best team leaders cultivate genuine connections, both with each member of the team and between teammates. Getting to know each member on a personal level generates trust, and activities that help the team connect helps them learn to trust each other. True connection goes beyond improving morale: it also helps leaders and team members recognize the autonomy and personal strengths of each person. This in turn makes it easier to develop processes and strategies that take advantage of each person’s strengths.
With a better understanding of each team member’s capabilities, leaders can then create long-term plans to develop their team’s growth. Good leaders encourage continuing skill development. This can work in a number of ways: virtual and in-person training, setting aside a budget for new learning opportunities, acting as an example of ongoing learning, delegating new responsibilities, and acting as an encouraging cheerleader whenever your team’s growth pleasantly surprises you. Again, encouraging growth goes past morale: a positive environment focused on learning can boost productivity and even attract new talent.
Leaders don’t just tell employees what to do. Instead, they show them by coaching them through new processes and hard or soft skills. A good leader will give helpful and positive feedback about each member’s performance on a regular basis, guiding them to improve.
In turn, leaders should allow open communication in the workplace. This means asking for feedback on your own leadership—as scary as that sounds—and inviting new ideas and even disagreements. When you show the team that their contributions are welcome, they’re more likely to feel they have a stake in the decisions that are made in your organization. This in turn encourages new innovations and dynamic perspectives within the office.
Leadership is all about keeping your team motivated and aligned in the workplace, helping to sharpen their skills as they direct their energy toward the same goals. Your organization can only thrive when its leaders help teams find better paths toward success, with each person collaborating efficiently with the others.