Leaders: Support Your People
(Part One in a Four-Part Series)
Leadership in today’s workplace looks very different when compared to the direction in previous generations. Current leadership thinking trends towards wide and low organizational charts that push power down to those employees who are closer to the problems and the customers experiencing them. This trend is becoming more popular and necessary; particularly as a new generation enters the workforce that desires to have a personal impact and has strong opinions. One of the best methods by which leaders support their team by is to make the transition to a shorter org chart and provide excellent professional and personal support.
Leaders Provide Professional Support
Providing professional support to employees in the workplace is perhaps the single most crucial role for an effective leader to fulfill. Without support in the workplace, employees will be less efficient, frustrated and unmotivated. Problems will regularly surprise team members and coaching and training to overcome them could be non-existent – allowing problems to remain or return after dealing with symptoms. A leader who provides professional support will look ahead and foresee problems before they arise. Alternatively, they may provide advice and coaching through the process of discovering and removing the real root of a repeating issue. Leaders who practice professional support supply all of the necessary tools and resources to their team for them to succeed.
Leaders Create New Leaders
The next step for leaders who provide professional support for their teams is to coach their team members to become a problem solver and visionary of future issues themselves. One technique used to develop these traits within team members is to ask questions that may help shine a light on areas that have previously been in the dark for them. Asking questions to help team members discover root issues themselves rather than pointing it out to them up front can help them process through future challenges without your guidance. An employee can also be given “mental reps” in the problem-solving arena simply by being asked what they would do in a situation. If you have a very different suggestion than theirs, then explain your reasoning and who and what you are considering that they may not be. Also, be open to their idea even if it is different from your own. Consider giving them advice on the issue and letting them make the final decision on the best route to take. You could very well discover and groom the next leader your company needs rather than hoping an outside hire fits the culture and needs.
Leaders Provide Personal Support
In addition to providing professional support, leaders in today’s workplace would be wise to provide a level of personal support as well. Leaders who know and care for their team members will be far more successful when attempting to find a team member’s strengths and motivations. Building trust within teams is a well-known pillar of strength within many successful organizations, and that cannot be done without a level of personal care. Leaders support and celebrate your team members’ personal achievements. Notice their struggles outside of the workplace and show care and compassion in tragedy. These actions done in a manner that appears to check off a to-do list item will be fruitless, but a leader who genuinely values, appreciates and cares for their team members will build a loyal, trusting and devoted team that fights for one another through difficulties that may tear other teams apart.
Simon Sinek summarizes what is possible when we lead this way in Leaders Eat Last: “when those kinds of bonds are formed, a strong foundation is laid for the kind of success and fulfillment that no amount of money, fame or awards can buy. This is what it means to work in a place in which the leaders prioritize the well-being of their people and, in return, their people give everything they’ve got.”