What makes a good leader in 2018?

There is probably as many different definitions of leadership as there are companies out there. Although a management position is an aspired goal for many, sitting in the driver’s seat of a business certainly is not a piece of cake. It implies a wide range of responsibilities, expectations, and necessary executions.

On the contrary, with the increasing pressure on today’s workforce no hierarchical level is left out. Regarding its huge impact on a company’s overall performance, one of the most essential roles of a leader is enhancing employee engagement.

Bill Gates pointed out years ago: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

But what does today’s leadership do to ensure employee satisfaction and retention? We have composed a list of behaviours that are not only essential to leading teams, but that also have a positive impact on enhancing the employee experience:

1. Provide ability to grow and take on new opportunities

The Institute of Employment Studies has shown that new opportunities are the strongest drivers of engagement. It gives the employees the feeling of recognition and ability to develop and capitalize on their strengths.

However, in order to help employees understand what they need to work on can further improve and develop necessary skills. This begins with clear and consistent dialogues that begin with superiors. Leaders need to provide feedback as well as outline career paths for employees. These discussions can also involve training options that benefit both the organisation and the individual.


2. Set clear expectations

Employees need to be able to see how their roles play a part in organisational goal. The “How you help us succeed” needs to stand in line with the common goal and strategy, mission, and vision.

Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) helps employees focus on what is expected from them. It contributes to the feeling of security as well as their abilities to make an impact on a larger scale. However, it is also important to ensure that individual goals are realistic and attainable.

3. Allow autonomy and facilitate with efficient resources

Micromanagement is frustrating and demotivating. It has a negative impact on employee engagement, and on the organisation as a whole.

On the other hand, studies have shown that increased work autonomy is associated with higher employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to higher retention rates. Autonomy is linked to the feeling of responsibility, which puts a “big-picture” emphasis on the individual’s work performance. However, in order to prevent fatigue and frustration, it is necessary to provide the workforce with resources that will facilitate and optimize effective wok.

4. Reward and celebrate accomplishments together

Although offering rewards might seem to have a direct impact on motivation, studies actually show something different. In fact, studies confirm that recognition has more of an impact on productivity than financial gain. Furthermore, more than 35% of employees claim that a lack of acknowledgement is a primary reason for decreased productivity and resignment.

Employee appreciation pays off. Therefore, celebrating accomplishments and rewarding your employees should be top priorities for management. Of course, rewards will differ between positions and roles, but offering incentives and rewards for high performance motivates employees to go “the extra mile”.

5. Build a strong relationship with intact communication

Intact communication is crucial for any relationship, including employees and managers in the workplace. The Engagement Toolkit for Managers and Leaders by Harvard highlights: To ensure smooth productivity on a daily basis and catalyse work progress barriers need to be removed.

In an effort to build and strengthen the management-employee relationship, it is clear that feedback has to run both ways. In addition to the direct dialogue with the employee, providing frequent feedback is also essential.

Surveys enable leaders to grasp the big picture and also indicate where action is needed. Data can be obtained in different ways, which include 360 degree surveys or employee pulse surveys. If you are not sure which method(s) would suit you best, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask our experts.