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We live in an era where everyone wants to “be their own boss,” where working for someone else is seen as self-punishment or a short-lived experiment, before moving into the startup grind or self-employment. Whilst frustrating for employers and company leaders, to never quite know who is “quietly quitting” on you, it’s important to see it as an opportunity- for you as a leader, and your company as a whole.
It’s time to grasp “The Great Resignation” by the reins, and emphasize that leadership is about guidance and support, and not dictatorship and management. The current reset is a great opportunity to thrive with your team by not cannibalizing their ambitions. So, how can a modern leader guard themselves against a changing economy? Here are five behaviors to change that will prepare you for better leadership:
1. Their success is your success We all have our inner desires and personal growth aspirations, and more often than not, most individuals leave a workplace because they feel it needs to be one or the other. It’s time to drop the expectation that they only work for you. You are also a stepping-stone to something greater for them, and a great leader will build personal goal transparency amongst their team.
Do you have issues with them having a “side hustle” or something of the sort? If these undertakings are within reason and don’t compete with your business’ offering, then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why you feel that way. At the end of the day, if there are no business considerations to be wary of, it’s time to encourage the entrepreneurial side of your employees and nurture these aspirations. From a personal perspective, I make sure my initial conversations with team members involve understanding what they want to achieve, and ensuring that their work with me feeds into developing the skillsets that achieve their goals.
2. Encourage people to “fail forward” “I give you permission to fail” are the most memorable words a CEO told me the day I stepped into my first Head of Marketing position. It would have to be the most comforting line that I still repeat to myself and say to others that I work with. The new startup leaders of today are often hesitant to delegate, believing they will do a better job, but true leadership quality lies in the ability to direct and guide with an open support line.
Make it known that they have a safe environment to fail, learn, and grow. After all, you, as a leader, will make mistakes too.
3. Coach, don’t dictate Learn the skill of curiosity. Listen, observe, and ask the necessary questions by diving that little bit deeper to understand one’s intent. It encourages team members to choose their own perspectives, and it also makes them more resourceful and likely to take positive action. Coaching is not about telling others what to do, but rather to invite them into a space of personal leadership, choice, and action. They will ultimately manage themselves, but with your guidance. As a leader, you are there to paint a clear picture of the future, in which people can see themselves thriving within.
4. Learn to “unlearn” and rethink Leaders don’t know it all, so they shouldn’t pretend to. Rapid changes in culture and economic dynamics mean that we have no choice but to unlearn what we thought we knew about our businesses, and learn again. Stubborn pursuit of previous ways and opinions have no place in a modern market. Instead of surrounding ourselves with “yes” people who agree with our conclusions, it’s time to gravitate toward those who challenge our thought process. Trust those you expertly hired to drive your vision; after all, you can’t do it alone.
5. Put you first Yes, you heard that right. You are the priority. We hear this line among caretakers, and we are told that you can’t optimally care for others until you care for yourself. It shouldn’t be any different when you’re leading a team. This isn’t only about self-care. It’s about aligning with your aspirations, as you are the voice and the true reason most individuals choose to join an organization. What future do you see? What principles do you want to stand for? How can you successfully marry your two answers? You need to learn to be settled in your own skin, so that you’re able to provide a nurturing, productive environment for your team to grow in.
With this ongoing churn in economic change, leadership has become fearlessly agile. You are to inspire, align, and activate those around you. You are directly responsible for the engagement of those that follow you, and the best way to do that is by leading with your strengths; the things that come naturally to you. Simply put, effective leadership is the ability to define outcomes and help individuals leverage their talents to achieve them, and it seems that heading into 2023, any “old” rules no longer apply.