A dismal reality about the state of the American workforce remains true: According to Gallup, nearly 70 percent of U.S. workers have been either "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" since 2000.

So who's to blame? It's no secret by now that people leave managers, not companies.

Gallup CEO Jim Clifton said it best:

"The single biggest decision you make in your job--bigger than all the rest--is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits--nothing."

If you're in a leadership role now, at whatever level, it should be in your best interest to get a reading on where you stand with your employees. Then, invest in your own development so you're not contributing to the 70 percent club.

Leadership development is not rocket science. Be bold enough to listen to constructive feedback, identify the gaps, and be laser-focused on raising your capacity to lead with positive intention.

You can start with the most common reasons why companies come to consulting and coaching companies like ours for leadership development. Over and over we see this on our radar screen. They want their managers to learn how to...

1. Improve collaboration.

In the traditional top-down leadership world, bosses at the top of the food chain will cast a vision, then use positional power and control to move people to carry out the vision.

In today's relationship and social economy, companies are increasingly turning to hiring and developing servant leaders for competitive advantage.

It is in the servant leader's DNA to cast a company vision and enroll their followers to express their voice as co-creators and co-contributors to the vision.

Collaboration in servant-led cultures is palpable, as fear is pumped out of the room and people become liberated to innovate, create, communicate, and engage.

2. Increase openness and accountability.

As companies shape their leadership culture and equip their tribe for battle, it is imperative that leaders from the front-lines to the C-Suite measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep their most talented employees.

This will require a high-degree of openness and transparency on the leader's part to self-diagnose by asking simple questions like:

  • Do my employees know what is expected of them at work?
  • Do my employees have the resources and information they need to do their work right?
  • Do my employees have the opportunity to do what they do best every day?
  • Have my top performers received recognition or praise for doing good work?

3. Build trust that leads to business outcomes.

Let's face it, if you are considering developing leaders, trust is a pillar your company's leadership should stand on.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey highlights leadership trusting behaviors that are culturally ingrained in the structures of some great companies known for high employee engagement including Whole Foods, Campbell Soup, and Semco.

Among those trusted behaviors are:

  • Practicing accountability
  • Creating transparency
  • Confronting reality
  • Clarifying expectations
  • Listening first

This is how their leadership teams and employees interact day-to-day. Imagine the possibilities of leveraging such behaviors to increase trust across the board. Employee performance ratings go up, and as a result, your customers will notice a difference.

4. Increase self-awareness to know and understand themselves and those they lead.

Self-awareness is one of the most important capabilities for leaders to develop. And it is a learned trait.

And a self-aware leader is a resilient leader. Instead of self-defeated victim behaviors of "why me," self-aware leaders probe and ask ourselves questions like:

  • Why do the same issues keep coming up over and over in my business unit?
  • Why do I respond to situations with anger, fear, withdrawal, or optimism, openness, and assertiveness?
  • What makes me think, act, and feel the way I do? What makes me tick? What pushes my buttons?

Having a complete self-understanding gives leaders an edge. They can manage themselves and their emotions, identify further opportunities for development, and make the most of their strengths.

5. Create a culture of continuous learning and development.

Bosses should consider leadership development to teach leaders to develop a sustainable work culture. It starts with ingraining in their leaders a mindset for providing their followers with opportunities for learning and growth.

What you'll find in most healthy organizations is a high commitment to growing their employees. They do so by:

  • Identifying their employees' gifts, talents, strengths and personality types for the best job fit so that they can reach their potential.
  • Championing a "learning spirit" within the organization, sending a clear message that "growing our people is one of our highest priorities."
  • Giving meaning and purpose to the employees' work, adding further motivation.
  • Providing ongoing training, coaching and mentoring opportunities that are aligned with job purpose, performance measures, best-in-class customer service, and fulfilling the organizational mission.

As you assess these truths, what resonates with you the most?

Published on: Oct 19, 2016
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