In the dog-eat-dog world of business it takes a tough boss to push people to be the best they can be. After all, most people will not go the extra mile at work without pressure from the top. Right? Not necessarily.
A recent study conducted by CareerBuilder found that confident leaders who manage on the basis of open communication, mutual trust and understanding enjoy increased productivity, greater job satisfaction and fewer health issues – both for themselves and for their employees.
On the other hand, bosses who rule with an iron fist can invoke fear, distrust, stress and experience high employee turnover rates. In fact, according to CareerBuilder one third of employees say they’ve left a job due to their manager. That’s a major concern.
Likewise, some managers are reluctant to show appreciation for their employees and discourage an open, caring environment because they fear that they will lose control of their employees and be taken advantage of.
Do you know where do you stand? Are you driving down employee morale or are you inspiring your employees to be the best they can be?
Here are 10 signs that you’re a leader who motivates and supports your workforce:
1. You’re not afraid to talk about the tough stuff
Giving your team feedback is essential to building camaraderie and respect. Of course no one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but as a leader it’s your job to tackle difficult situations. From a business perspective, it isn’t really what you say, but how you say it.
Deliver difficult news in person – not via email or by phone. This shows your employees that you care enough to take the time to meet with them and to talk about any concerns they may have.
2. You give credit where credit is due
Recognizing your employees for a job well done shows them that you see their efforts and appreciate their hard work. Your positive reinforcement of their work motivates them to rise to future challenges and reinforces that their efforts are not going unnoticed.
Not sure how to show your employees that you appreciate them? Need some new ideas? Read: 52 Epic Ways to Reward Your Employees.
3. You are in tune with your team
Communication is the bridge that connects you to your employees and vice versa. Successful leaders have an open door policy and invite their employees’ opinions. Say Chris overhears you talking about an issue that is going on with a client and he comes to you with an idea of how to solve it. By welcoming his ideas and being open to his suggestions you are demonstrating your accessibility and reinforcing a true team mentality. This encourages your employees to think outside the box and cultivates a culture of cooperation.
Remember that productive communication is a two way street.
4. You set clear expectations
Making your expectations clear sets the foundation for your employees. It gives them the structure they need to get the job done. Don’t leave them guessing or assume that they know what is expected of them. Without a clear understanding of their job responsibilities employees often disengage and productivity can take a nose dive. If Susan is struggling to handle her workload it might not be because she can’t handle the work. It could be because you have not set clear guidelines with her on how she should prioritize her assignments. Helping Susan understand that some things have strict deadlines and others don’t can be the difference between failure and success. People need direction and it is up to you as their leader to help them prioritize.
Likewise, since tasks are always changing it is good to check in on a regular basis to help your employees remain focused and moving forward.
5. You walk the walk
You have the same standards for your own work ethic as you do for your team. Your mantra —“I expect you to succeed and I am going to succeed right along with you. We are a team and we will all be successful together.”
6. You help others excel
You are not threatened when your employees desire to enhance their professional skills. Effective leaders know that their employees are a direct reflection of themselves. If your employees are stagnant and your team is floundering it doesn’t say much for your ability to bring out the best in others – a trait of every great leader. On the other hand if the people who report to you are thriving, developing new skills and being recognized for their achievements it showcases your ability to move others to greatness. By encouraging them to develop their skills and move into new opportunities you are demonstrating your commitment to their careers and establishing your leadership capabilities.
7. You win together and lose together
As a leader you help guide your employees to do the best job possible. When things go right you celebrate the victories alongside them. And when things go wrong you shoulder the burden together. Taking responsibility for failure is the mark of a good leader. Let’s say that your team has been given a deadline to come up with a new business plan that has far reaching implications across the company.
Your new employee, Mark, is handling the IT piece and he makes a critical error that causes the system to crash and the information to be lost. Do you blame him and throw him to the wolves? Or do you explain what happened and take responsibility? Sometimes mistakes are caused by poor leadership. Could you have put safeguards in place that could have stopped this from happening? As the leader it is your role to take responsibility and stand up for your team — explain what happened, without blaming others and propose a solution to avoid the same mistake in the future. Your employees will trust you and respect you for it.
8. You seek to resolve conflict
When conflict arises you’re quick to act. You’re fair and open to hearing both sides. You offer resolutions and give unbiased feedback to help smooth out the situation. You lead by example and act with integrity.
9. You know that life happens
You recognize that people are human and sometimes life is difficult. Your employees feel comfortable coming to you when they’re going through tough times. They know that you will do the best you can to support them. This is not always easy. It requires you to take a step back and put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Instead of focusing on the negative impact their situation might have on your workload see it as an opportunity to coach your employee through a tough time.
When Kristen confides in you that she is going through a divorce and will need extra time away from the office to deal with legal appointments and child care issues she is most likely feeling anxious and overwhelmed. You can help ease her stress by reacting in a caring, positive way. Offering a solution such as flexible working hours or a lessened workload can make a big difference to her success. Life happens. Everyone needs special consideration at times. By showing your employees that you have their backs you will create a happier, more productive workplace.
10. You invest in your own development
To be an effective leader, you understand that you can always learn new management skills. You seek out training on new leadership techniques and are open to constructive criticism and suggestions on how you can improve. Being a leader does not mean you are all-knowing. The most effective leaders embrace new ideas and learning opportunities. By investing time in your personal development you are not only showing your team that training is an important part of professional growth, but you are expanding your skills and capabilities as well. A workforce that embraces fresh ideas is innovative, driven and energetic. Set the example and watch your employees rise to the top.
As a leader you have a great amount of influence in the daily lives of your employees – in the workplace and beyond. By embracing a positive leadership style you set the stage for your workforce to be the best they can be. The benefits are enormous both to your business – with increased productivity, higher retention and increased profitability – and to the overall well being of your workforce – greater job satisfaction, less stress and a healthy, happy work environment.
Ready to get more tips on how to be a better leader? Download The Insperity Guide to Leadership and Management, Issue 2.