By Kirsten Blakemore Edwards (@KirstenBeMe), MA CPCC, Consultant at Partners In Leadership
Upward movement is a challenge, especially for women competing to ascend the ranks in a male-dominated company. Instead of fighting so hard to get to the top, there's another approach to becoming a great leader that is much more rewarding and less lonely: Surround yourself with great people.
But how do you find and cultivate great people?
Gallup 2016 Employee Engagement reports 70% of workers in the US are not engaged. That number becomes more discouraging worldwide where only 13% of workers feel engaged.
These figures are staggering and have a disastrous impact on organizational success, not to mention the effectiveness of leaders.
To inspire greatness in employees, leaders must look within. How clear and communicative are you as a leader? What is your leadership style? Do you practice what you preach? Keep the promises you make?
Many of us have experienced a boss who "speaks out both sides of his mouth," creating a culture of suspicion and mistrust that is detrimental to employee engagement. If people mistrust you as a leader, forget trying to convince anyone to act.
A great leader establishes an important foundation of credibility and trust. When people trust you, you inspire their loyalty--critical when challenges arise or when you need to rally the troops to success.
Strong leaders build strong teams on these five principles:
She who tries to move mountains by themselves, fails. Those that use a competent workforce (and perhaps some technology) wins.
Give clear direction. Just because there is a job description does not mean people comprehend what needs to be done to reach results. Don't assume you and your employees are on the same page. Build check points and speak to them often to ensure success.
3. (Be) Candid
Being honest sounds fundamental to being a great leader, yet people often withhold what's really on their minds because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings. When important things go unsaid, no one on the team learns from the mistakes. Reinstate an employee's value by coaching them to be better through honest communication.
Establish the value of feedback--giving and sharing alike. As leaders, we may gather very little truthful feedback. If people feel their voice is important, their ideas valued, they are more likely to stay engaged. Make sure when you receive feedback, that you follow up on the feedback you receive. Even if you do not choose to act on it, let them know it was important and you value what they had to say.
People want to feel valued. One way you can foster that is by asking them about their life. What do they enjoy? How is their family? Did they find time to relax on a recent vacation? Work is not everything in life, and people feel a sense of loyalty when a leader cares about them as a person, not just a workhorse.
Time and again, great women leaders have attributed their success to the strong individuals and teams they are surrounded by. Creating a strong team starts with a leader investing their time. Look to your people. When they feel their voice is important to the organization and their leader, they are more engaged. As you connect with your people, know what motivates them, what they enjoy so that they know you care. As a leader, we are only as good as our people. Forging strong relationships early pays off throughout your career. Learn and use the 5C's every day, Collaborate, Communicate, (Be) Candid, Connect and Care.