Few things are more valuable than a loyal employee. It's not just because replacing a skilled worker could cost your business double that individual's annual salary. You lose that person's knowledge, productivity, and experience with your product or service and even their leadership qualities.

The good news is that as a leader, you have the greatest influence in motivating your employees to stay. When you take active steps to grow as a leader and transform your business for the better, you can instill greater loyalty among your employees so that you can get even better results.

How can you tell you're on the right track as a leader? One of the best ways is to look at the behaviors of your staff. The following are key signs that your leadership traits are having the desired impact on your team:

1. They go above and beyond.

Your leadership and example will directly influence how much effort an employee puts into their job. When managers make the work meaningful, employees who have bought in will often do more than what their job description entails. They view the company's success as their own and strive to improve the workplace.

The Harvard Business Review describes these as "citizenship behaviors," noting that "when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth, their companies are more efficient and effective."

2. They're coachable.

The best employees aren't perfect -- but they are coachable. They are willing to take accountability for their actions, but perhaps more importantly, they also view you as a valuable resource for gaining insights on how they can improve.

When you've established yourself as a dynamic leader, employees won't grudgingly listen to your suggestions and then half-heartedly implement them because "you're the boss." They won't offer excuses or tune out when you have difficult conversations.

Instead, they will be enthusiastic about your new ideas and be willing to implement them based on the feedback they receive. This creates a culture of continual growth that will benefit everyone involved.

3. They build and support company culture.

Employees who have fully bought into your company culture don't just perform better -- they also become brand advocates. In a sense, this allows them to become recruiters as they share positive work experiences with other potential hires who would be a good culture fit.

Of course, culture starts at the top. As Mark Moses, CEO of CEO Coaching International, has noted, leaders must first ask themselves, "'Where are you going?'... a question that calls for clarity, painstaking communication and dedication to aligning your company culture to your vision ... An environment that will attract the kind of talent needed to pursue and execute on the vision is also critical."

Establishing quality culture from the get-go will help attract the "right fit" to your company in the first place.

4. They are willing to say no.

Having an employee say "no" to you may not seem like it fits under the idea of "following without question," but it's a key indicator that you've developed trust with your staff. Employees who respect you won't just automatically agree with your ideas -- they will give them thoughtful consideration.

If they have a good reason to disagree, they will present their argument in a respectful manner. This is because they trust you to honestly listen to their ideas and concerns so you can work together to make the best decision for the company. This collaboration will prove far more valuable for your long-term success than automatic compliance.

5. They're in it for the long haul.

Your best employees likely aren't going to go unnoticed by other businesses. Other offers will come their way, many of which may entail a promotion, higher pay or a more convenient office location.

Building a strong foundation of leadership won't necessarily cause all of your employees to reject these offers. But you may be surprised at how often a top performer will be willing to delay gratification because they have become committed to your brand and the purpose of their work.

The impact -- not the money -- becomes the greater reward.

When employees buy into your culture and leadership, they won't jump ship at the first offer they receive. At the very least, you'll have the opportunity to present a counteroffer rather than be caught off-guard by a two-weeks' notice slip.

For your business to succeed, few things will prove more valuable than building a loyal team. When you practice great leadership, you ensure buy-in from your entire team. 

Published on: Feb 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.