Leadership: How to Get the Best out of your People – Part 4

The last article tackled the three major leadership behaviours namely: competence, emotional maturity and leading change.

A very big Australian company where I worked for 10 years got new experienced General Manager on board. Sadly, he doesn’t have emotional maturity and is incapable of drawing in the hearts and minds of the staff concerning change. As a result, many employees, including myself, bugged out quite fast. It shows the value of being effective in not just some of the key leadership behaviours but in all 12 of them, as it is essential to maintain to retain key employees.

10. Sharing the Pathway

In the dark is where seeds germinate, but sunlight is vital for crops to grow and yield. It is the same for employees. Keeping them in the dark won’t allow you to get the best out of them. Feeling wanted and connected is innate in people, because they want to know how their everyday tasks and contributions are helping in making the future better. They feel connected this way, and lack of this connection will discourage them to come to work with a genuine desire in helping the business flourish.

The General Manager who was replaced by the new one mentioned above utilised a very basic but very effective approach to involve the 240 people under him. He would conduct several “pathway” presentations across the country every quarter. The “pathway” comprises a three-year diagrammatic path towards a bright future, and other key goals such as revenue, profit, market share, return on net assets, and employee numbers. Down the path you will find diagrammatic representations of major strategies; new factories, new listings for current products, new product launches, new marketing drives, adjustments to the sales channel structure, major employee events, and recommended new vendors. In addition, the company results for the earlier quarter would be shared by the old General Manager.

At the end of one of his meetings, we would step out thinking about novel strategies to beat the competition! That’s how motivating it was. “Be number one but always act like you’re number two” was his call to action at the conclusion of every meeting.

It’s your decision how much information you want to share with your people, but it is important that you share.

11. People Development

“It’s better to train your people and have then eventually leave, than not train them and have them stay,” a wise man once said. Or, these wise words from Richard Branson, “train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Have you heard of Abraham Maslow’s 1954 theory of “Hierarchy of Needs?” If you have, you know that self-actualisation is at the topmost level, followed by esteem. Maslow was a psychologist who lived in the 1900s and who spent his life studying positive human characteristics and the lives of great individuals. The need to reach one’s full potential is self-actualisation. The need to feel a sense of accomplishment is esteem.

We don’t know these two needs are on the list of some of the people we come across on the streets. But we do know that they sit high for the kind of team member we wish to work for us. What it means is that investing in the growth of your model employees is important because these people want to learn and expand their skills and knowledge. They want to feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. If you fail to provide them opportunities for growth, these people are likely to leave your team at some point.

You are responsible, as their leader, to promote the growth of your people. It is easy to ignore this, but don’t forget that they represent your competitive edge. There’s no reason for you not to invest in sustainability.

There are many ways to develop your people. Some of these include efficiency training, product training, performance feedback and coaching, leadership training and mentoring, and competency or skill training. Identify the development they need by identifying gaps in your business.

For employees in a managerial position, provide them with leadership training. Model employees depart due to a lack of relationship with their team leader or manager.

Succession planning for vital roles is the other critical element of people development. You can see this happening in a business where things are getting along smoothly, then someone in an important job suddenly leaves and everything goes chaotic because no one is ready to assume the vacated position. Leaders must think ahead; assign individuals for critical role succession and support their growth. If you can’t do this due to your business size or structure, put in effect a really effective hiring process.

This is probably not new to you: “Your people are your greatest assets.” It is true.

12. Moral Courage

For some people, “moral courage” may be a way of being or personality trait, instead of a behaviour. But it has been include as a key leadership behaviours because it is vital for leaders to display this in all things they do. This has been put last because it is the behaviour that strengthen all the other behaviours.

Leaders have to be strong and on occasion, assertive, and courage is needed for this. Leaders have to make difficult and on occasion, very unpopular decisions, and courage is needed for this. Leaders have to convey unambiguous expectations and make people responsible, and courage is needed for this. Leaders have to build the right culture and possess great emotional maturity, and courage is needed for this. Leaders have to establish a direction and push for change and action, and courage is needed for this. Do you get the picture now?

You fail as a leader when you don’t possess moral courage. Being morally courageous means you will do what you think is right while keeping your values, without thinking of the consequences for yourself. When you possess moral courage, you will look towards the future with a strong determination to succeed. When you have moral courage, you will be calm in the face of pressure, allowing you to look through the smoke, thus allowing you to keep your attention on your core business.

Trust in your ability and be strong.

To conclude this four part leadership article, don’t forget that effective leadership mainly involves having confidence and trusting yourself to be and act as a good leader. Just like many things in our life, it takes practice and dedication to be good at whatever you do. Don’t expect to succeed overnight. You will become a better leader by striving to possess the 12 leadership behaviours and having a way to regularly self-evaluate your leadership.

In today’s economic climate, running a business can be difficult. Competition has become fiercer and finding the right staff and managers is not as easy as it seems. Businesses also have to deal with compliance of various government and regulatory requirements. PJS Accountants can assist you in dealing with accounting compliance and strategic planning challenges. We have has over 30 years’ experience with local businesses in Capalaba, Cleveland and the Redlands. Our team will be at your disposal, ready for your call to assist you to stay in charge of all aspects of your business. Contact PJS Accountants for enquiries on how we can help you improve your business.