Leaders in the workplace – authentic and inclusive please!
Published: 1st August 2019
The employment market is fast-changing and managers must change with it in order to motivate and retain their staff in the way that they want to. With Generation Z now entering the workforce, priorities of what they look for in a leader have drastically changed in comparison to that of Generation X several years ago.
People now want to work for managers who are authentic and inclusive characters. Those who make honest mistakes along the way, embracing and learning from them. These kind of leaders are much preferred than those who pretend they’re perfect and penalise employees when something goes wrong.
The effects of an inauthentic leader can be catastrophic to the business involved. Evidence shows that employees who don’t view their leaders as authentic are less engaged, thus leading to increased staff turnover and a potential dip in profit for the business involved.
But what can leaders do to help them become more authentic? There are four fundamental principles that they can adhere to:
1. Let your staff grow and develop, even if this isn’t within your business
This is a really interesting point, as it means that a successful leader will help staff to grow and develop even if it’s inevitable that the employee will eventually leave. This could be because they want to pursue another career or that they wish to grow in directions that don’t match the company’s current vision.
By mentoring all employees in the same way, a leader is demonstrating that they are committed to doing the right thing for each individual. In turn, staff retention will actually become higher as other members of the team will see how those that have left have been treated and want to stay.
2. Don’t allow people to think outside the box then punish them if it goes wrong
These days’ employees are attracted to businesses that encourage and promote innovation. In reality only a few of these businesses are willing to accept the potential pitfalls that can come with this ethos, once something goes wrong. Naturally the more this happens, the more frustrated an employee will feel, driving them away and forcing them to leave.
The key here is for leaders to never hold these potential mistakes against an employee, regardless of the financial cost to the business. By creating an environment that means people can learn from these mistakes, will mean that staff levels will stay constant.
3. Listen to criticism and take it on board
No matter how inclusive leaders are, they’re probably not perfect. Who better to provide them with feedback than their employees? Leaders need to grow a thick skin and learn to take this criticism on board as it could be invaluable.
Not only could it help the business grow, but employees will feel that their opinions are valuable, which in turn will make them want to stay.
Don’t fake it until you make it
Authentic leaders are real and genuine. You cannot “fake it till you make it” by putting on a show as a leader. People sense very quickly who is authentic and who is not. Some leaders may pull it off for a while, but ultimately they will not gain the trust of their teammates, especially when dealing with difficult situations. If people see their leaders as trustworthy and willing to learn, followers will respond very positively to requests for help in getting through difficult times.
Insight from Nigel Brewster