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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Are We Enabling Our Leaders to Lead or Fail?

Written By: Ben Baker | Comments Off on Are We Enabling Our Leaders to Lead or Fail?

Whenever I am collaborating with a new client, two themes typically surface early on in the conversation. . .

“We manage the process, and we lead people.”

and

“Leadership is a mindset and not a job title.”

Unfortunately, I have found a managerial mindset and authentic leadership is lacking in many organizations.

I want to start with my definition of leadership: A leader’s job is to wake up every morning thinking about making their teams better, removing obstacles from their way, and developing the next generation of leaders.

Leadership is not about the person themselves, but how they help the team they lead to succeed. To do this takes a variety of skills. It takes empathy, active listening, superior communication, coaching and mentoring, and the realization that teams are made up of individuals. These individuals have their own sets of motivations, challenges, hopes, wants, needs, fears, and desires that need to be listened to, understood, and valued.

A great leader understands all of this and works within their teams, both individually and collectively, to enable each person to succeed at their level, and have the team grow as a collective.

None of this is easy, and all the skills needed to allow this to happen do not magically appear at birth.

Instead, we grow into our brand and style of leadership through trial and error, coaching, mentoring, self-evaluation, self-awareness, and development.

Companies must invest in their leaders and leadership teams.

It is critical to teach the human skills needed to engage and motivate other human beings. Not doing this leads us right where we are today, faced with the realities of the Great Resignation, unengaged teams, and corporations not living up to their true potential.

Leadership skills are teachable.

We teach people how to do all sorts of functional tasks within an office environment, so why don’t we teach people how to be more effective leaders?

Repeatedly, I have heard senior leadership revert to the argument that training is expensive, time-consuming, and takes people away from the day-to-day tasks that need to be performed to keep the office running smoothly.

The counterargument is that more than fifty percent of people working in offices today are either contemplating leaving their jobs – or have already left. The main reasons boil down to ineffective leadership and leadership’s inability to communicate vision, mission, values, purpose, and culture in meaningful ways.

Inc. recently posted an article on the top five reasons people are quitting during the Great Resignation. These included:

  1. Toxic culture
  2. Job insecurity and reorganization
  3. High levels of innovation
  4. Failure to recognize performance
  5. Poor response to Covid-19

These issues could have been resolved with leadership who listened, understood, and valued employees.

Leadership must be able to communicate vision, goals, and values in the language of those they wish to influence, and demonstrate how those individuals matter in achieving the organization’s goals.

However, no leader innately has the skillset to help employees deal with frustration, mistrust, and anxiety without training. This leaves both the employee and those leading them feeling frustrated and without a standard set of tools they require, and desire, to find solutions to their issues.

Training can come from a variety of sources. These can include investing in high-level coaches who can work with leadership teams as a whole and individually, workshops, seminars, and mentorship. They also can develop listening skills, empathy, and better communication vehicles.

Without investing in their people, they cannot solve issues within the organization; the problems will fester and grow from minor and solvable problems to significant challenges that lead to the exodus of extraordinary talent.

Ineffective leadership impacts the brand itself.

Weak leadership leads to disengaged employees who simply work hard enough not to be fired. This alone can take a company from being worth loving to a low-cost, low-value commodity, easily replaced and soon forgotten.

Remember, your brand is only as valuable as your unhappiest employee on their worst day!

I urge every company to take a long and hard look at its leadership as it stands today. From front-line leaders to C-Suite executives, honestly evaluate if these people are genuinely leading, or just managing the process and enabling cancers to grow within the organization.

The Peter Principle in action.

Have you promoted people to their highest level of incompetency and not provided them with the tools, knowledge, and support to perform optimally?

Surveys are an excellent place to start, but all they provide is a benchmark. It is essential to talk to people within the organization, be willing to listen, and have the desire to change.

If there is no will to change, and actions to support that change are not developed and enacted at all levels, the downward spiral will continue.

Now is the time to invest in your leadership to better support your people.

Who will be left to support your clients if that does not happen?

Connect with Ben HERE to develop and tell your story within your organization and create a team environment where together, you succeed, grow, and become more profitable.

Article written by
Ben Baker is a communications strategist, the storyteller of your brand and the author of “Powerful Personal Brands.” He believes that every brand needs to stop acting like a commodity and instead be a brand worth loving. You can contact him at www.yourbrandmarketing.com.