5th installment of a 5 part series
Employees often equate leadership with a position or title, and the authority to direct, supervise, and control them. What they’re missing is their own contribution to the idea of leadership. Maybe the expectation has never been shared or development opportunities offered. Whatever the reason, a lack of personal leadership is one of the real tragedies in organizations today. It’s derailing company culture across the nation, which is why at Brilliant People, we believe organizations should embrace a leadership at all levels mentality. This is just one way an organization can get all employees on the same page, headed in the same direction. In particular, there are three areas that need immediate focus:
- How we team
- Emotional Quotient
Everyone has the capacity to lead in their position, they just need the right mindset and training. Then, soft skills like self-reflection, empathy, and collaboration will work as a ripple effect that flows outward from one employee to the next. It’s a win-win for all.
We need to think of leadership as a team sport
Every person in an organization has an important role to play, from the lowest rung on the ladder, to the topmost. With that in mind, organizations that cultivate an environment that encourages innovation through collaboration strengthens the premise that no person wins on their own. It is always a team effort.
Have you ever heard the adage “you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most?” That can work for or against you, depending on what those people are up to. And it happens in business as well. If you’re hanging out with others who are driven, have a bias for action or keep the company’s best interest in mind over their own, it rubs off. You also begin to create a sphere of influence, which is a triple win for anyone who gets caught up in it.
Consider this: When you surround yourself with people who are working for the greater good, it inspires you to do the same. In the end, the company wins as well. Imagine you’re in a swimming pool with a group of people. If one person begins to move in a circle, they create a small whirlpool. The others, standing nearby, begin to feel the subtle pull of the current. When a few more people join the circular movement, the current becomes stronger. Eventually, the current is what’s moving everyone in a given direction. And the more people who join, the stronger the current. This is a great example of that positive “sphere of influence” we should not only strive for, but highly encourage, as well. And, when you have a company that rewards that behavior, it’s even more appealing.
Mentors matter when building a leadership at all levels mentality
When we think about ways to engage and empower employees, having connection and community in the workplace is at the top of our list. Organizations who mindfully and purposefully create opportunities for their employees to connect with each other, see higher job satisfaction in their people and less turnover. Creating connection during the onboarding process sets new hires up for success, allows for increased knowledge transfer, quicker development of skills and smart succession planning.
It’s important then for organizations to think about a mentoring program as more than just an “onboarding” tool. Mentoring can highly affect career success as well as the organization’s bottom line. In fact, research has shown that employees who have mentors are:
- less stressed
- better socialized into the organization
- more productive
- able to earn more money
In order for it to be successful, a mentoring program must begin with a clearly defined protocol to match a new hire with a mentor. Personality, career goals and communication styles are all things to take into account when pairing people up. And, just like a new manager needs to be educated on how to manage a team, a mentor needs to be given proper training in regard to what mentorship actually looks like.
Be The Guide
Mentorship is about being a guide. You’re not a boss, a supervisor, or a new employee’s “hired” best friend. You’re there to help them navigate the processes and people within the organization. Mentors can also help to keep an employee’s career on the right track which just might mean a catapult to the next level. However, organizations should also consider the benefits that the mentor or guide receives. When you “serve” others, you usually get back more than you give in so many ways. Sharing nuggets of advice or connecting the dots for a new hire or new teammate can be incredibly rewarding for both sides.
“Mentors know more about what goes on in lower levels when they deal with mentees. Junior people can provide information to mentors…. [They] are up on the latest technology and knowledge. So it’s an interactive process: Mentors and protégés become co-learners.” This is an excellent example of personal leadership flowing up as well as down.
Being Smart Isn’t Enough
Today’s leaders can no longer rely on IQ alone to do their jobs well. Instead they have to hone their EQ or emotional intelligence skills. They must have the ability to understand and regulate their own feelings and help others do the same in order to improve peer-to-peer, manager to employee, and employee to manager relationships at work. To get a better understanding of what this entails let’s look at five key elements of EQ.
- Self-awareness: People who are self-aware are able to pinpoint how and why they feel a certain way and understand how their feelings affect others.
- Self-regulation: People who can control their emotions are able to stay in contact with the higher level thinking skills required for dealing with larger issues, negative situations and the inevitable change that occurs at all places of work.
- Motivation: People who are self-motivated usually have high expectations for themselves. They have conviction in their mission and work consistently towards it, setting an excellent example for their coworkers to follow.
- Empathy: People that exhibit empathy are better able to connect with the people they work with. They don’t ignore their problems or pity them. Instead, they develop better working relationships by listening intently and helping others work through whatever issues they may be facing.
- Social Skills: People with great social skills are top notch communicators. They welcome feedback (positive or negative), mix well with all types of people, and can engage in productive conflict.
These five elements are key to leading well in whatever role an individual holds. But, what if the people in your department don’t have all five components of EQ? That’s when you need to provide training for them. All of the skills listed above can be developed through targeted training, and are addressed through the training modules that Brilliant People offers.
Forward moving strategy
If we think of leadership as capacity, we realize it’s more than just a title, position or pay scale. Capacity is key to creating a leadership ethos in an organization that fosters a growth mindset and a desire to challenge the status quo. And, most importantly, to not wait for someone else to do the job. Instead, take the initiative understanding that leadership in an organization belongs to each individual. Sadly, individual leadership is lacking in many companies today, and the impact on workplace culture is significant. It’s time for organizations to encourage leadership at all levels by focusing on how we team, utilizing mentors and improving the EQ of all employees.
The culture revolution starts with you.
What does personal leadership look like in your organization? If you’re one of the many organizations that needs to improve in this area, let’s talk. We can help create solutions that are right for you.
A Culture (R)evolution (Part 1)
The Motor Called Employee Engagement (Part 2)
Personality Determines How You Show Up At Work (Part 3)
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