As someone who has spent most of her career working with C-Suite executives, I am often asked what makes someone an unforgettable leader. I have had the privilege of working with some of the most astonishing individuals during my 22-year career; these are people who have changed lives, organizations, and made the world a better place! I read voraciously about exemplary leadership and often get to see it play out in practice. My best throughs follow.
They Emphasize Empathetic Leadership Value-driven Gen Y and Gen Z talent will continue to leave command-and-control cultures for collaborative workplaces. The value of leadership empathy will be sky-high in 2018 and beyond. The ability to understand, relate to, and be sensitive to employees, colleagues, and communities will be paramount. I anticipate that we will see an even greater emphasis on listening, relating, and coaching to drive effective leadership.
They Implement the Use of Agile Talent With the rise of freelancing and remote work, organizations will be moving more towards the implementation of policies and procedures to work with what I like to call agile talent or contract staff. Organizations will need to train their managers to effectively onboard and utilize the agile talent to complete projects more efficiently while maintaining a strong organizational culture.
They Encourage All Team Members to be Brand Ambassadors Leaders are starting to recognize that every employee is an opportunity to provide the market with insights into the culture, quality, and standards of the organization. By leveraging social media, particularly sites like LinkedIn, every employee can become an ambassador. Organizational messages can be hugely amplified by the employees. It is effectively free publicity but more powerful, because it’s authentic and believable.
They Invest in Human Capital Development The most effective leaders recognize the long-term benefit of focusing on human capital development. Taking a vested interest in helping employees thrive in all areas of their lives (not just work) creates more engagement, productivity, and overall happier employees. The most successful CEOs I have seen put people first over anything.
They Lead through Actions and Example Leaders have long gotten away with vocally supporting policies and procedures, while their actions say otherwise. That tide has turned. With so much light being shed on unacceptable behavior in all workplaces, strong leaders understand that they need to not only hold their teams accountable for proper behavior but hold themselves accountable as well. This may be the most important point I make here. Great leaders act in such a way where they never, ever have to apologize for something they have said or done.
They Pay Attention to What They Can Control We crave certainty as it helps each of us make better decisions. However, smart leaders whom I work with are recognizing nothing is certain in the outside world. The winners will be those who redirect their attention to what is happening inside their organizations, getting clear on who they want to be and what success looks like. Focusing first on what is in their control helps them make decisions that matter.
I hope this helps you elevate your leadership and that you have the opportunity to work with (or continue to work with!) a great leader soon. It can be a transformational experience.