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3 Reasons Why Great Leaders Are So Important in Business Today

Workplaces are changing, right in front of us. Unhappy employees, generational influences, and the booming global economy are putting huge stresses on organizations to retain talented employees.

Employees are unhappy. 83% of employees want to leave their jobs, according to a 2018 talent intelligence survey completed by Harris Interactive and Solving the Talent Crisis

A 2017 Pew Research study Millennials are largest generation in the U.S. labor force found that Millennials comprise the largest generation in the US labor force, slightly ahead of the Gen-X generation – both are at one third of the workforce. Gen-Z’s comprise 5%. Baby boomers represent one quarter of the workforce – their numbers will continue to shrink.

The improving economy is inspiring more freelancers. A 2017 Edelman Intelligence study Freelancing in America: 2017 found that 50% of the American workforce will be freelancers. Technology like cloud-based applications, streaming video calls, and global project management tools enable remote workers to contribute seamlessly no matter where they live.

These influences cause turnover. You may be experiencing higher turnover rates – and aren’t sure what to do to stem that tide.

TinyPulse’s 2018 employee retention report Download: The 2018 Employee Retention Report sheds light on one of the biggest contributors to retaining talented staff: great leaders.

How leaders manage results and relationships has a huge impact on employees’ willingness to stay with their current leader – and with their current employer.

Three ways great leaders reduce turnover

This study found that leaders that specify and communicate clear job responsibilities to team members reduce turnover. Employees are 23% more likely to stay if their leaders specify their job duties, roles, and how they contribute to the success of the organization.

TinyPulse’s research discovered that leaders who are open to receiving feedback from employees – and acting on that feedback – reduce turnover. Employees who are comfortable providing upward feedback to their direct leader are 16% more likely to stay.

One more key insight from this study is that employees who rate their leader’ performance as poor are four times (4X!) more likely to be interviewing elsewhere. Specifically, 40% of those with lousy leaders have interviewed for a new job within the previous three months.

So, leaders who demonstrate effective leadership skills, relationship skills, and accountability practices (to name a few vital leadership qualities) reduce turnover.

How can you ensure every leader in your company is a great leader?

First, set clear expectations for all leaders. Technical expertise is important – but people management skills are equally vital. By setting standards for results and for relationships, leaders will understand what a “good job looks like.”

A number of clients have embraced my GREAT leaders approach. These expectations specify the performance side of leading others as well as the values side – treating others with trust and respect. Conveniently enough, these characteristics form the acronym “GREAT.”

GREAT leaders inspire growth.

GREAT leaders create avenues for team members to learn new approaches, develop new skills, and gain confidence to put those skills into action in the workplace.

GREAT leaders do not let team members ”rest on their laurels” or allow their skill sets to stagnate. GREAT leaders know that their organization and their global marketplace is constantly changing and evolving.

The only way GREAT leaders can ensure talented, engaged team members are held in the highest esteem by their organization is to continually boost team members’ contribution and value to the company.

GREAT leaders honor relationships.

GREAT leaders know that positive relationships based on shared values create mutual trust and respect in the workplace. They create and maintain positive relationships with team members and expect the same

among team members.

GREAT leaders know that without mutual trust & respect, workplace cooperation disappears. They realize that they must effectively manage employees’ heads, hands, AND hearts. Most leaders are satisfied with managing employees’ hands (getting stuff done) and sometimes their heads (explaining strategy & goals).

Many employees spend more time at work than they do with their family or friends. GREAT leaders act to maintain a safe, inspiring workplace so employees feel honored at work.

GREAT leaders inspire excellence.

GREAT leaders set clear performance expectations and coach team members to exceed them, every time. High standards consistently met help focus the team’s contributions to the company and to their customers.

GREAT leaders know that the organization rightfully expects leaders to ensure goal standards are consistently met. Hitting or exceeding standards means the team has kept its delivery promises and commitments.

GREAT leaders must create a work environment that enables team members to apply their knowledge and skills in service to the team’s performance standards. GREAT leaders can’t demand performance – they must inspire it, every day.

GREAT leaders ensure accountability.

GREAT leaders know that consequence management is the avenue to high performing, values-aligned teams. They praise and encourage progress & accomplishment of both goals and valued behaviors. They redirect and, if needed, reprimand values mis-aligned behaviors and/or missed performance standards.

GREAT leaders know that their organization rightfully expects that they and their team will exceed goal standards while demonstrating the organization’s values day in and day out, in every interaction.

GREAT leaders are only able to inspire their teams to high performance AND values alignment when a combination of joint accountability and individual accountability exists. Joint accountability means the team must deliver; individual accountability means every player must deliver.

GREAT leaders spur teamwork.

GREAT leaders know that cooperative interaction among team members maintains trust and respect more than competitive interaction does. They create norms that enable sharing of information, skills, and support across their team.

GREAT leaders hold teams and team members to high standards, not just for performance but for citizenship, as well. Only when values like cooperation, “win as one team,” and continuous team improvement are measured, monitored and rewarded will team success be as important as individual success.

Announcing these GREAT leader characteristics doesn’t mean every leader will embrace them. The only way to ensure leaders model these practices is to measure them – by allowing employees to rate their leaders on the degree to which they demonstrate these characteristics daily.

That’s a subject for my next article.

Don’t leave retention to chance. Help your leaders be GREAT leaders and enjoy the benefits of low turnover, happier employees, and exceptional customer service.

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