Today more than ever, employees are recognizing their innate role as a leader, regardless of their official status within an organization. These leaders have the power to influence their peers, introduce new ideas, manage projects, and often have a variety of advancement opportunities ahead of them. In a Wiley Workplace study of 5,000 professionals, researchers found that 62% of individual contributors consider themselves to be a leader.
However, only 28% of those who see themselves as a leader have received leadership training. That means that two-thirds of leaders lack direction, tools, and context to lead successfully. They know what qualities a good leader should possess, but they don’t know how to get there. Today we’ll explore ways you can equip your team for leadership at every level.
Model Servant Leadership
At its core, leadership is about your team, not you. Leaders should be asking themselves, What does my team need from me in order to deliver our organizational goals? We can’t tell the team what they need; we need to listen to them first. One of the primary functions of a leader is to empower others by removing obstacles. Leaders should prioritize listening to their team, identifying issues, and troubleshooting roadblocks for their colleagues.
Invest in Leadership Training
Leaders are developed, not born. A team member may have leadership strengths and abilities, but they need development to become an exceptional leader. Furthermore, if you have individuals trying to lead without training, it can cause conflict within the team. Their colleagues may not be viewing their actions with the right perspective or intention. Consider programming like The Exceptional Leader™ which helps participants develop key leadership competencies, including setting direction and aligning, motivating, and inspiring others.
Another key competency of leadership is communication. Are we spending the time to develop how we communicate formally and informally with others? Programs like Speak Up & Be Effective™ help leaders communicate with confidence.
During the pandemic, many organizations pivoted to fully remote work. Team members had to adapt to a new physical location, electronic and asynchronous communications, and brand-new tools. Instead of holding tightly to familiar processes and standards, leaders must be agile. Leaders at all levels of an organization must learn to flex their communication style, preferred tools, and familiar methods when the situation requires it.
Leaders should be aware of their natural tendencies and how they may need to adapt their style for the good of the team. Our Everything DiSC® Work of Leaders program focuses on leaders’ preferred style for setting direction, building alignment, and executing strategy.
Make Time for Self-Reflection
Respondents in the Wiley survey identified the top qualities of a leader as effective communication, clear vision of the future, and relationship-building. Leaders at all levels should take stock of their abilities in these areas. This equips leaders to identify opportunities for growth and lean on other people when needed.
One way to do this is to ask for feedback from your team to become more self-aware. Another method is through professional coaching like our Emerging Leaders Coaching, where a dedicated Coach can help assess and guide a leader’s growth.
Many team members work hard but get no visibility. Leaders should be in the habit of recognizing the positive results their team is making on a project. In the Wiley study, 98% of respondents said that when they feel valued by their employer, they feel ownership in their work, are more productive and motivated, and feel like they are contributing to the success of the organization. As we’ve seen during the “Great Resignation,” team members will leave if they do not feel valued, if they don’t see themselves as part of the group, or if they don’t feel like they are having an impact.
Your team members are eager to take on more leadership functions. But are they prepared? “Given that leadership isn’t an innate characteristic, but a skill honed with time and practice,” notes the Wiley team, “organizations have a great opportunity to get people working on their leadership skills for today and the future.” Let’s get started! Contact Jennifer Maxson & Associates for a personalized recommendation for your team’s journey towards leadership at every level.