Ideas in Motion

Key Traits of Today’s Leaders

Dec 22, 2020 3:37:34 PM

People don’t quit their jobs, they leave their toxic/incompetent leaders. Successful companies need a laser focus on developing effective leadership skills. The style of micro- management and command and control that prevailed years ago is irrelevant. The cornerstone of success in today’s employment environment depends on relationship-building that begins with a leader’s ability to facilitate authentic, nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients – especially in these difficult times of the COVID pandemic.

William Arruda, Senior Contributor at Forbes magazine, posits that there are 15 potent traits of an effective leader today. Leaders understand what is an employee’s special knowledge that and how the organization can tap into that most effectively. Leaders create an inspirational vision, and help each employee see their role in achieving the vision without micromanaging in recognition that they don’t have all the answers. This is why they hire people with specialized skills.

Effective leaders do not take workers for granted and publicly thank team members for their contributions. Leaders support employees by spending time helping them solve problems and coaching without directing, recognizing that blaming is unproductive. They have a genuine interest in where staff wants to go/do in the future. This includes life outside of work. Leaders do not take credit for an individual to team’s work, preferring to bestow praise when deserved. Leaders also trust in your ability to do your job. After all, the organization did hire people to fill particular roles presumably based on their expertise and a robust selection process. Along with that, leaders know how to build strong relationships that convey the sense that they empower workers to act.

Leaders are inspirational guides, not taskmasters. They allow people to fail and, in doing so, teach others how to course correct. Leaders challenge people to achieve more than they think they can, transcending self-imposed limitations through challenging projects and opportunities for additional learning. They are even willing to lose “superstar” workers if it is right for the company and the individual. Leaders understand that fear of failing obviates risk-taking and “have your back” when needed. Finally, leaders make time for their employees and have regular meetings to help their employee succeed.

If some of these characteristics suggest that leaders need to be empathetic, you have a good grasp on a central tenant for today’s effective leadership competencies. In fact, this trait has been a “hot topic” in many business-oriented and psychology publications. While many people understand the concept in other contexts such as sickness, loss of a loved one, the application to business relationships still is emerging, and managers and executives are commenting on the notion and suggesting (or sharing) ideas for application.

Research from DDI concluded that empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others is a “critical driver” driver of overall performance. There was a solid correlation in the study between empathy and coaching, engaging, and making sound decisions. Yet, only 40% of line managers were proficient or strong in empathy. In essence, an empathetic manager recognizes employee success and attempts to put himself/herself in their shoes. That same concept holds for having “difficult conversations.” Managers should deal with these situations, of course, and the result may be termination. However, an empathetic manager is committed to rehabilitation and correcting, and demonstrating caring and concern, and one of the best ways to demonstrate empathy is to facilitate and maintain this feedback loop. Many managers develop an attitude that the employee will be leaving, and follows the process to end. S/he might as, which can manifest HR how to accelerate “the end” as the attitude becomes fatalistic. Managers need to take the time to “hear” the employee with well-developed listening skills, and suspend judgment until there is a comprehensive, realistic perspective on the situation. Unfortunately, some surveys of current upper management conclude that 30% of employees fully are engaged, and the other 70% function at a level of just "going through the motion,” to problematic. If the mission of instilling empathy will take a while.

Bill Link

Written by Bill Link