— October 17, 2018
Today’s organizations understand the value of effective leadership. The numbers speak for themselves, as companies with top-tier leadership outperform the competition in terms of business performance metrics like profitability, innovation, and retention rates. No one questions that good leadership is critical to driving superior business results.
But why? What is it about effective leadership that helps organizations achieve better outcomes? While there’s no question that good leaders can provide strategic vision and set clear priorities, it’s easy to overlook the impact they also have on the teams responsible for achieving those goals. Here are few ways that leaders can help their teams to perform at a high level and drive business results:
Better Communication = Better Results
Effective leaders are effective communicators. This extends beyond simply keeping everyone on the same page while working on a project. Good leaders understand that communication is a two-way process in which they must both provide direction to their teams and listen to what they have to say. While technological developments have provided the workplace with more communication channels than ever before, simply having those options readily at hand doesn’t guarantee they’ll be used effectively.
In order to drive better business results, leaders must help their teams to communicate early and often by promoting a culture that emphasizes collaboration and honesty. Rather than shy away from potential sources of conflict, effective leaders identify them early and take proactive steps to address the situation to bring about a positive and productive resolution. By establishing a true open door policy that allows employees to voice their concerns easily, leaders can address problems before they can negatively impact the team’s performance and focus on improving processes.
When teams don’t communicate well, they tend to be plagued by uncertainty, with unclear priorities and confusion between team members contributing to low morale. Teams struggle to define a strategic plan or be productive in such a low information environment, with people turning inward and focusing on their own roles and tasks at the expense of the group’s success. Leaders must push back against these challenges by effectively communicating the organization’s goals while helping team members to develop better collaboration strategies.
Trust is one of the most important elements of a healthy and productive team. Studies have even shown that trust between team members is directly related to performance. When team members don’t trust one another or leadership, they’re less likely to hold themselves accountable to the team and follow through on commitments, making it difficult to drive business results. Building and maintaining trust within a team should therefore always be a key priority for any leader.
Leaders can help to build trust by practicing open and honest communication, as well as setting an example by being available to team members, following through on promises and commitments, engaging in authentic conversations, and emphasizing shared goals. They can also watch for signs of trust issues, such as deflecting responsibility, hurtful gossip, or diminished interactions between team members. Partnering team members with one another on a rotating basis can help them get to know one another better, as can arranging face-to-face meetings that provide an opportunity for them to develop a sense of empathy and personal connection.
As trust increases within a team, employees work together more effectively and learn to celebrate their wins as a group. They will also be more likely to look out for each other and understand how one person’s work influences outcomes for the team as a whole. By taking steps to build this trust, leaders can create more committed and effective teams.
The most effective leaders don’t just get results from team members, they inspire them to deliver superior outcomes. Studies have demonstrated that companies with highly engaged employees perform far better than their competitors in terms of customer ratings, profitability, and productivity. They not only had higher earnings, but also recovered faster from setbacks. This makes employee engagement strategies critical for any organization
Inspirational leaders find ways to create a sense of purpose to the work their teams are doing by aligning the organization’s goals with the values of its employees. When people understand how their efforts contribute to the company’s mission, they’re more likely to take pride in their work and devote more time and energy into their job. Highly engaged employees have lower turnover and absentee rates, and they’re more likely to hold themselves accountable for their work.
Leadership plays a large role in employee engagement strategies. Effective leaders inspire them to embrace the company’s mission and work hard to contribute to its success. Poor leadership behaviors, however, have the opposite effect, often causing employees to leave the organization altogether to seek opportunities that better align with their personal values.
Feedback is critical to employee development and performance measurement. Without appropriate and constructive feedback, employees don’t have a clear sense of what they’re doing well and what they need to focus on to improve. Research indicates that 65 percent of employees want to receive more feedback than they currently get, which suggests that leaders across organizations need to do a better job of helping their team members to develop their skills and careers.
While critical feedback that highlights where improvements are needed can be valuable for improving team performance, effective leaders also understand the importance of acknowledging good work. Gallup research has found that 2 out of 3 employees feel their good work is often not recognized, which in turn reduces engagement and can make people twice as likely to quit. Taking a moment to give praise and acknowledge accomplishments takes very little time, but can have tremendous long term benefits on employee morale and engagement, which in turn drives better business results for organizations.
When delivered constructively, critical feedback can help indicate skill deficiencies and provide employees with a road map for future development. Emphasizing these development opportunities demonstrates that the organization cares about its employees, which can in turn boost engagement and trust.
Leadership has a tremendous impact on an organization’s ability to drive business results. By focusing on how they can help their teams perform better, leaders can create a work culture that emphasizes engagement and collaboration. These strategies are effective not only at resolving immediate challenges, but also lay a strong groundwork for lasting success.