Risk v Reward – Leadership Development (Greenacre Consult)
Updated: Oct 21
It would not be too great a stretch to say we’ve overdone the ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘new normal’ slogans now.
As we’ve made our way through the numerous challenges over past year and a half, many of our work practices and leadership methods have evolved at a significant rate, and uncertainty has enveloped us from all angles. We’ve dealt with major tests such as the ability to lead effectively remotely, and there has been a bigger cognizance around mental health. Work and home life have merged, we’ve contended with staff engagement, recruitment and retainment challenges and, in most cases, leaders have had to find fast, workable solutions to all of the above.
As leaders, we have had to grow and adapt quickly, taking into consideration not only fast-changing organisational challenges, but individual worker’s situations and requirements, as well as managing our own personal circumstances. Those who have adapted quickly understood early on the risks of not developing these support systems, and the importance of creating opportunities for existing employees to grow and develop alongside these changes and challenges, and have typically displayed more emotional awareness, empathy and have communicated more effectively with their teams to guide their organisations through these choppy waters. Some have managed this without losing many, if any, valuable shipmates. Others have not been so lucky. But has it come down to just ‘luck?’
The Great Resignation ‘The Great Resignation’ is being used to describe the massive shift in priorities of employees across the globe who, having navigated the pandemic and all the drastic economic, social and emotional disturbances that came with it, decided their existing work life was no longer fit for purpose. In essence, people realised things needed to change, and contrary to most expected responses to such an uncertain future employment trajectory, people have been leaving their jobs in droves. A recent Aviva Survey reported three fifths of UK workers (60%) intend to make changes to their careers as a result of the Covid outbreak, and a Gallup analysis has found that 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities, with businesses facing a startlingly high quit rate. In the UK, the most common reason cited for quitting or switching job roles is choosing the freedom to work from home, followed by the opportunity to learn new skills/qualifications and follow a different career path, with a significant number now wanting to choose a job that ‘helps others.’ Further reasons for leaving include the realisation of the importance of positive mental health and well-being/a healthier work-life balance, as well as many simply realising that life is full of uncertainty, and being stuck in an unsatisfying job that does not recongise your worth is, well, just not worth it. Organisational leaders who have not been quick enough to adapt their behaviour and company culture have typically been found to have the most unsatisfied employees, and are losing them at the fastest rates. Clearly, it is becoming more important to do work that is fulfilling, that utilises one’s passions and values and that is appreciated. A large chunk of those polled by Aviva cited they have deliberately moved on (or will do in the near future) to organisations that embrace the remote and hybrid work model, where employees are trusted to work autonomously from home. Recent studies show these kinds of organisations also report a happier workforce, more productivity and higher turnover, as well as significantly higher staff retention rates.
Modern Leadership Matters There’s no getting away from it. Positive employee engagement and effective, progressive leadership is vital for organisations to survive and thrive through uncertainty. Without investing in a fit for purpose leadership development and employee engagement plan, organisations risk becoming part of the growing statistics of employee dispossession, and crucially, it’s typically the best talent that walks out the door first, leaving it slightly ajar for the remaining team to see what they could be missing out on by staying. Modern, effective leadership requires learning new behaviours, and these behaviours should be a blue print for others to follow. The Leading for Tomorrow Programme, created by Greenacre Consult, embeds four core principles which create an applied learning pathway to help today’s leaders lead for tomorrow’s challenges: Trust It starts with trust – trust in oneself to lead, guide and deliver with authenticity and empathy. Trust in your employees, by giving them the opportunities, with support and guidance, to step forward and challenge their own limitations. Trust that they are capable of working without being micro-managed or spoon-fed directions, which is counterproductive and demotivating.
“Trust is the thing that changes everything. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a must have.” – Stephen R Covey
Communication When we communicate effectively and create the safe spaces for others to communicate freely with us and with each other without fear of judgment, trust is bolstered, and the capacity to innovate, create and give vital, honest feedback is much more likely to occur. Having those curious conversations in the workplace is an overlooked, but vital process which captures real time thoughts, feeling and experiences of ourselves and others that sets the distance between more traditionally top-down authoritarian organisational leadership and effective progressive leadership.
Inclusivity Inclusive leadership is about being aware of unconscious bias, being honest about organisational and individual challenges and differences, embracing a diverse work culture and creating purposeful, inclusive and diverse teams, which bring together different strengths, to achieve a common goal. It’s about modelling the behaviour that welcomes, acknowledges and accepts difference, and harnessing the powerful, collaborative accomplishments this can bring.
Leading Through Uncertainty Uncertainty is here to stay. How we lead our teams and equip them to deal with uncertainty is key to how successfully we drive forward our organisation and support those working within it to achieve their career goals, and work towards a common purpose. It is also key to retaining our high performers and ensuring our whole workforce is happy, motivated and driven to succeed and work towards collective goals, and therefore less likely to become disengaged and look elsewhere for their next career move.
The above formula, as well as understanding how to work well under pressure, lead confidently through unchartered territory whilst at the same time showing our own vulnerability and authenticity as fellow humans, are all key ingredients in leading effectively and reaping the rewards of a modern leadership approach in the new work world. Without these key behaviours, we run the risk of creating a disenfranchised workforce which feels disempowered at a time when empowerment and individuality is crucial to workplace safety and job satisfaction. Engaged leaders are shaping the future work landscape. We can either be a part of shaping that change, or risk being left behind.
If you’d like to find out more about the Leading for Tomorrow programme visit the programme website.