Leadership styles evolve with the times, and often reflect the values of their organization. As a new year begins, it’s a good time to revisit the concept of leadership, and how to carry out that role to the benefit of the fellow employees as well as the organization. Because like a classic pair of jeans, the style may change but it’s value as a core piece of your wardrobe is forever.
What Does a Leader Do in 2018?
While the concept of leadership has been part of management thinking and study for a very long time, this may be perhaps the most challenging time to be a leader. In many companies, people in these positions juggle multiple roles. This unique placement within a corporation provides opportunities and challenges. Leaders must increase and diversify their skills to be effective. However, they may have a harder time focusing and less time to do each job well. Core competencies include an ability to analyze; plan and direct a course of action; use social skills to influence, persuade, and empathize; and motivate people through visionary communication skills.
And while all of these elements of leadership are key to success, it can be argued that communication is the bedrock. Quite simply, communication builds relationships. Successful communication of a vision requires commitment to conveying a message in the way that stakeholders embrace, based on their needs and concerns. More than just a meeting where information is given, it’s an on-going conversation up and down the chain of command. Effective leaders develop targeted messages that convey how much they understand what engages, worries, challenges, and motivates junior staff. They interact with staff on multiple occasions, providing clear and consistent messaging, and allowing plenty of opportunities for questions to be raised and addressed.
Being a Leader in 2018
In addition to high-caliber communication skills, successful leaders in today’s organizations adhere to transparency. Transparency is an element of communication that builds trust, which in turn strengthens interpersonal relationships. In a transparent workplace, employees feel like they are aware of what is happening within an organization. They recognize their roles and how they directly contribute to a company’s success; this provides security, which frees them to focus more fully on their work, and a feeling of motivation/real buy-in – that what they do matters. In transparent workplaces, everyone is held to the same expectations and standards of performance, regardless of their role.
When leaders have a genuine and sincere belief in their vision, and share that effectively with staff, the staff are much more likely to believe in it, too. This “story” of the company and what it stands motivates people to excel.
A Brief Case Study
Since it was established in 1999, Zappos has been well-known for its unique corporate culture. From the beginning, the organization espoused certain core values. They emphasized qualities like adaptability, creativity, risk-taking, learning, growth, honesty, determination, and humility. A few years ago, CEO Tony Hsieh rolled out a flexible and responsive management style: holacracy. It allows employees to self-organize and self-direct their work, with shared decision-making among team members. The goal is better productivity and ingenuity. People work according to the roles needed, and it’s understood that roles adapt to best utilize people’s strengths for a given project. All employees are subject to the same expectations and responsibilities – from CEO to administrative assistant. At Zappos, employees are “vested” in their company and the work they do; this belief motivates them to carry out the company’s vision in everything they do.
A New Year, A New Chance to Improve Your Leadership Skills
Successful leaders balance multiple roles, and are able to communicate their vision effectively to many different groups. Transparency is essential. In the end, staff who feel like they truly understand the company’s vision and how they can meaningfully contribute to it will genuinely believe in that vision. They will carry out those values in their daily tasks.