For your team members to be at their best, it goes without saying that you, as a leader need to be at your best. In addition to building strong businesses, successful leaders help employees reach their full potential.
When your team is highly engaged, happy, and feels appreciated, you are more likely to have their respect as a leader. The numbers tell the story. The firm Interact found, in a study involving 10,000 U.S. employees, that when they felt management appreciated their contributions, engagement was boosted by 60%. Employees who feel valued enjoy greater self-confidence and find it easier to handle tough situations. They even have more available headspace for creative, innovative thinking. An effective leader keeps these factors and their effects on company culture front of mind.
Leadership Style: The Great Generational Shift
A workplace transformation is occurring. Baby Boomers passing the torch to the newer generations has resulted in a major shift in leadership style. The command-and-control approach in which company leaders strategized and created processes, then turned the plans over to managers responsible for getting the work done, was the norm for decades. But such traditional management practices are no longer acceptable to Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z groups early to midway on their career journeys. Expectations have greatly evolved, and employees today care as much about personal growth as they do about professional development. Emerging leaders and workers are applying a fresh–and one could say, more enlightened–approach, one with a strong metaphorical relationship to athletics.
Today’s employees want leaders who will guide them to reach their full potential. They also tend to enjoy being challenged. Leaders who are willing to become great coaches of their “teams” can look to the example of Bill Campbell, former Columbia University football coach who evolved to be known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley”. He has been hired by the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta Platforms (Facebook) to help them realize their full entrepreneurial potential.
The Top 5 “Leadership as Coaching” Elements
So, what exactly gives a leader great coaching ability? It takes more than excellent communication skills. Harvard Business Review shares a breakdown of the top five elements with the acronym COACH:
- Care About Your Team: When employees feel authentic, personal connections with their leaders, they fully engage in their work and boost overall team performance; if you are used to a less warm/open management style, be willing to listen, learn, and grow along with them – use soft skills and become a relationship builder
- Organize Your Team’s “Positions”: Learn where your team members’ strengths and desires intersect so everyone can work in their “sweet spot” where inspiration + passion = fulfillment; start by directly interacting with individual employees on a regular basis and see overall employee engagement rise
- Align Your Employees to Your Company’s Vision: When team members can connect their own values to those of the company, they will go the extra mile; bring your company’s customer service vision to life by showing them the higher purpose of their work
- Challenge Your Team Members Regularly: Today’s younger employees and leaders (and even those more established) want to grow and appreciate constructive, honest feedback, tracking progress via measurable goals, and frequent reviews; as a leader, expect high performance and don’t be afraid to “stretch” your team members beyond their comfort zones to bring out their best
- Help with Problems, Celebrate Successes: Leaders are no longer hands-off executives who judge people solely by their bottom-line impact–they are colleagues who help their team members work through challenges, and recognize them officially for their accomplishments; the best leaders personally engage with their employees, offering support when needed
The same soft skills taught to your employees can be equally effective for those in leadership roles. Given today’s changing model of leadership, as well as what it means to be an employee, learning to be a great workplace coach is a winning formula for success.
What is Ikigai and How Can It Help Your Employees?
In Japanese culture, it is believed that when you have discovered your calling, that thing that makes you happy to get out of bed every day and get busy, you have found your ikigai. Enjoying one’s work is essential, but there’s more to it. Your “reason for being” is also something at which you can excel; something that will help you flourish financially while also contributing to the greater good. Ikigai is found at the intersection of these four areas.
As leaders, it is important that we get to know our employees as individuals. Only then can we most effectively guide them to positions in our companies that will best suit them and allow for the greatest growth. This not only can help employees start out on the ideal career path, but it can also aid established team members in transitioning to roles for which they are better suited and in which they will find fresh inspiration. Equally importantly, it can phase out workers who may need to leave your organization and possibly even your industry to find their own ikigai. The healthiest company cultures have employees who find joy and purpose in their work, knowing their leaders have their personal and professional interests at heart.
Imagine how it would feel to have employees–such as the people of Okinawa–who are often so inspired and energized that they’ll put off retirement so they can keep enjoying their work. In a word: priceless.
A Word About Conflict Resolution, aka Keeping the Peace
If you had to guess, how much time would you say management spends dealing with conflict across all areas of their company? This can include external issues with customers, suppliers, and competitors. The answer is, nearly 25%! Before business suffers, these issues need to be resolved or at the very least, mitigated. With one study showing that only 40% of employees in the U.S. have received conflict management skills training, it is up to you as a true leader to:
- Learn to identify conflict
- Develop a general framework to deal with it, and
- Teach your team conflict-resolution skills
Being proactive can help your employees be on the same page regarding conflict, likely preventing it much of the time and leading to greater employee satisfaction and retention.
Leaders Embracing Self-Development Create a Strong Organizational Playing Field
No leader wants to be left behind by shifts in their industry. In today’s über-competitive business environment, executive teams are dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, global politics, climate change, and many other influences.
A report by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) notes that, like employees, leaders must also sometimes work outside of their comfort zones, particularly when internal and external changes are necessary. Adaptability has become one of the most important skills for leaders. For the most agile response to change, develop a plan including a timeline that is achievable. It can serve as a tool for tracking your own progress during change, as well as providing an example for your team. Always be accountable.
To be a successful leader you must also take steps to keep a competitive edge. Become committed to lifelong learning. Do your homework, think strategically, and capitalize on opportunities. Use data insights to guide your decisions so your business–and your team members–grows and thrives, and your customers enjoy best-in-class customer service.
No Leader is an Island
As leaders, we are obligated to be the best possible version of ourselves, on a daily basis, and to share this version with everyone around us, including future leaders.
In the words of Forbes Business Council member Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, “Today’s leaders are those who take their people with them into the future and get the most out of them by empowering them to realize their full potential. Teamwork makes the dream work, after all.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If you’re happy, tell your face!”
CX VIDEO CLIP OF THE WEEK
The number one criteria that dictate the level of a company’s customer service level
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