2018 workplace leadership resolutions
Here we are at the start of a new year again. Last year was a very eventful year in the workplace ranging from unemployment woes, layoffs, employment inequities, new legislation for hiring expatriates to new developments and new jobs. Have we made the strides we needed to make? What is in store for this year from a workplace leader perspective? From my view, the following resolutions would address the ongoing leadership needs in organizations today.
1. I will be vision-driven
As leaders of organizations, it is expected that the vision, goals, objectives, and plans will come primarily from us. Too often, leaders are driven by operational demands and end up being task-centered rather than vision-driven. What does that mean? It means you get excited more by the flurry of activity you see in your organization rather than any long term gains. Busy does not mean productive. Are your teams busy doing what is going to move your organization forward? Often, leaders do not want to slow down long enough to think ahead and plan properly. Only a vision and strategy can determine productivity and whether organizational goals are being achieved. Anyone that rests on yesterday’s success, especially in today’s market is doomed for failure.
2. I will listen more than I lecture
As an HR professional, corporate trainer and coach, I hear far more than I would desire of employees that are spoken to harshly, insulted, cheated, used, denied opportunities, and just not being treated fairly or with respect. People need to work and want their jobs, but they also have the right to not have their labor exploited or their work experience frustrated due to ineffective leadership. Before shutting someone down or forming an opinion before you actually hear what someone has to say, just listen without opinion or bias. Acknowledge what was said without being defensive and engage in an objective conversation. Being defensive closes the door to having real dialogue. I would love to hear more stories of persons who feel listened to, encouraged, engaged, and challenged to grow.
3. I will walk around my organization more
Any leader that only takes the word of his or her senior management team will never know the real truth of what is going on in their organization. I have personally witnessed where senior leaders will outright lie, share partial truths or withhold information to protect their standing with their executive leader. If you want to know what’s really going on in your company, take a page out of the book of The Undercover Boss. You may not have to get in disguise, but if your team isn’t so afraid that they will voice how they really feel, just walk around and talk to your frontline staff. You will get a completely different perspective than you have been told.
4. I will be open to change and growth
“I was afraid of the internet… because I couldn’t type.” That was the sentiment of General Electric leadership giant Jack Welch. Leaders can only lead as far as they have gone themselves. Are you requiring people to do what you are unable or unwilling to do? What’s worse: do you make them do it and take the credit for it? Great leaders are willing to learn from anyone and learn new skills. One of the most resistant groups to training, development and continuous learning is management, in my experience. They never feel like they need training but are usually the weakest links in the organizational chain. The things they refuse to learn are what about make them ineffective: people skills and emotional intelligence, the ability to plan and strategize, ability to organize and manage time and tasks, ability to communicate and inspire, the ability to train, coach and mentor others; need I go on? Any leader that is not open to personally change and grow is subject to become obsolete.
5. I will walk the talk
One of the greatest weaknesses of leadership is when a leader is not credible or believable. How does that happen? When a leader’s actions are not aligned with what he or she says, he or she loses credibility with the team. What leaders tend to not realize is your team sees and understands more than you give them credit for. In fact, you are more transparent than you think. Your team sees right through you and may comply but surely do not respect you and will not support you in a crisis. In fact, much of the teamwork you think you have is really only the personal commitment people have to their work and their professional reputation. We all know the stats: people leave people, not jobs.
As we have the chance once again to approach the next year with newness, innovation and reflection, let us think of those areas in our leadership where we can improve and without excuses, make the changes, get the help or support, and transform your organization. As the infamous quote by John C. Maxwell goes, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, mentor, and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. For comments, queries and bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.