Some of the greatest leaders have been able to inspire generations not just with their words but also through their actions. They understood that to set an example for others, they themselves should walk down the path they advise others to follow.
This philosophy applies to the corporate world as well. How the CEO or the top management conducts itself plays an important role in developing the organisation. In today’s rapidly changing scenario, leaders need to take initiative and be the guiding force to create a highly motivated and productive work environment.
Change begins at the top:
The old adage, “Practice what you preach” holds true to this day. Employees are hardly impressed by their CEO’s eloquent speeches about radical changes that could transform their organisation. Instead they want their leaders to lead and show them how to walk the talk. Leaders need to understand that it is very easy to advise others on how to perform their job efficiently. But it takes a considerable amount of efforts to actually get the job done.
If there are any changes that need to be made, they should start from the top management. The rest of the organisation will automatically follow once it realises the importance.
Create a culture of Transparency:
Gone are the days when the top management held all the cards close to their chest. They used to only reveal information that was absolutely vital for everyone to know. However today’s generations are not satisfied by working in isolation. They always seek to understand how their efforts are connected to their company’s objectives. Apart from employees, all the key stakeholders as well as regulatory bodies and media demand that organisations become more transparent.
Many experts suggest that increasing transparency in the company is the key to fostering a culture of trust. When everyone is aware of what the company goals are and what role they play in their achievement, they are more likely to put their trust in the management.
Focus on simplifying the process:
Employees are expected to perform at their best. But if they are not given clear and precise guidelines, they will find it hard to perform some of the basic tasks. Complicating things more than they already are is one of the worst things that leaders can do. It slows everyone down often leading to bad decision making.
It is very easy to complicate things. But it takes special skill to simplify things and then effectively communicate them to others. Great leaders have always focused on first simplifying complicated processes which led to increased effectiveness and efficiency.
Compartmentalise your thoughts:
According to Ken Blanchard’s popular book, “The One Minute Manager”, one of the 3 main characteristics that a highly efficient manager needs to have is compartmentalisation. It means that whatever problems the manager has with one employee, it should not affect his behaviour with other employees. He needs to compartmentalise his reaction so that others are not affected despite performing their respective jobs in the right manner.
Leaders have a number of responsibilities for which they have to deal with a number of other personnel. At times, due to someone or the other’s mistakes, tempers are bound to rise. For example, one of the managers may have grossly exceeded delivery time of an important project. This could potentially hamper the entire workflow. It is natural to get angry but leaders need to take utmost care that this reaction does not spillover in their interactions with other employees.
Stop being busy:
People have this misconception that being busy is equal to being highly productive. Wrong. It means you can’t really manage your time properly. Managers who give out the impression that they are always busy, are indirectly announcing their inefficiency at not prioritising more important tasks. These individuals have a huge to-do list that they never seem to complete on time. Ideally you should only have 3-4 important tasks on your agenda for the day.
Always make sure that you are performing all your tasks in the most efficient manner so that they are done well within time. A leader needs to have time for whoever approaches him for help and guidance. Employees seek to be more effective at work by asking questions at the right time. If denied, there doubts will be left unanswered and lead to resentment.
Create new leaders:
The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
– Ralph Nader
And lastly, do not hoard authority. The more you delegate, the more you will get done. Learn to recognise individual potential and hand over responsibility accordingly. Employees appreciate it when their management provides them ample opportunities to grow and become future leaders.
“The real damper on employee engagement is the soggy, cold blanket of centralized authority. In most companies, power cascades downwards from the CEO. Not only are employees disenfranchised from most policy decisions, they lack even the power to rebel against egocentric and tyrannical supervisors.”
– Gary Hamel, Gary Hamel Consulting.
What other skills do you think should a CEO develop that could improve the work environment?