And 4 Ways to Do So
Every employee should be valued and supported, and it is especially important that leaders within an organization feel supported. Why? Leaders who feel supported will, in turn, be able to support their teams.
This plays into the mission of Your Clear Next Step: creating better workdays to help create better communities. How do people have better workdays? One of the many ways is being well led by good leaders.
The reasons to invest aren't rocket science, but sometimes it's nice to see things spelled out:
1) Increased Employee Morale
Happier employees are more productive employees. They're more motivated, they spend less time complaining at the water cooler and more time getting things done. Their career longevity is also significant in the organization - they're happy, they perform better, and they stick around longer. Happy employees can be up to 300% more productive when they feel valued and supported by a competent leader.
On the flip side, if a poor leader causes a dip in employee morale, those employees are less productive, which wastes organizational time and money. The worst part? It's not the employees' fault. It's hard to pull out of a slump when they don't feel empowered by their leader.
2) Better Employee Retention
Just like bad leaders can adversely impact employee morale, they can just as easily drive away solid talent. Employees don't quit companies, they quit leaders. The typical cause? Leaders have failed to lead them, or they've seen bad behavior go unchallenged, creating a toxic environment. A Work Institute study found that 27 out of 100 employees had left voluntarily in 2018. There is a new trend in 2022 called "quiet quitting," a method for completing just the bare minimum. Employees participate for various reasons, but most of them are related to the work environment.
A good leader helps create better environments, full of respect, appreciation, challenge, and belonging. They work to better recognize and align employee strengths with their responsibilities. Good leaders offer feedback, showing an investment in the employee and the work to be done. A good leader will help employees feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
3) Keep Your Money in Your Pocket
Bad leaders drive away good talent, which increases hiring and training costs - a lot. So, not only is the organization losing good employees, but it has to spend the time and money hiring and onboarding a replacement. After all is said and done, the company could be out $60K or more each time it goes through the process of recruiting and onboarding a new hire. Additionally, there's always a possibility that the new hire doesn't work out. The process starts all over again, and the company incurs the loss of productivity and money from making a bad hiring decision.
Not only is the organization saving money by hiring and retaining good people through effective leadership, good leaders find ways to save money and then some. The organization reaps the financial benefits of happy, motivated, and empowered employees, superior problem solving, and sustained momentum to drive the business forward.
4) Good Leaders Pay it Forward
Good leaders grow great employees - internal promotion is higher in companies with good leaders because employees are learning from the best. This carries throughout the organization, fostering a positive work culture. Employees feel empowered to do good work, and move up in the organization after seeing their peers and leaders rise through the organizational hierarchy. It's as the saying goes, "great leaders create, not followers, but more leaders."
When leaders feel valued and valuable, they can't help but share those feelings with those they work with. Leaders in turn discover the effect this has on engagement and productivity. Improving employees' sense of self-worth helps them contribute from their best selves. Their work, then shows for itself! Employees see those great results and are inspired to go beyond the bare minimum. No longer "quietly quitting", they contribute greatness from where they sit, too.
Organizations who set out to make a difference are most successful when they fill their halls with leaders who feel supported and who pay it forward. They become an unstoppable force of greatness, and as Lao Tzu said, "when the best leader's work is done, the people say 'we did it ourselves.'"
4 Ways to Invest in Leaders
Now, we know why to invest in leaders, but how do we do that?
1) Increase Morale
Increasing employee morale is all about recognition, encouragement, and positive attitudes. This is true for anyone, even outside of work! Notice the good work that leaders are producing (all along the way - not just at the end of a project), and recognize them for it. Use words of affirmation, taking the time to tell them that what they are doing is appreciated.
Encouragement is particularly useful on tough projects and during a busy season. We all need a boost when things are difficult, overwhelming, or when we find ourselves in a rut. Encourage leaders to persevere through the challenges.
Having a positive attitude can be seen as well as heard. Others will notice how setbacks, discouragement, and challenging situations are handled. This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to smile and be cheerful 100% of the time - because it is okay to recognize when things are not so good - and employees will follow that lead. If a setback is allowed to keep you from moving forward, your employees will do the same. On the flip side, if a moment is taken to acknowledge the situation, reflect, and keep pressing on, the same positive attitude will be noticeable in leaders and their teams.
2) Mission And Vision Statements
Provide leaders the opportunity to take part in mission and vision building. Have them sit in on those conversations and ask for their input. What would they like to be working towards? How do they want to get there? What do they feel should be prioritized? What’s important to them will show up in their answers.
Encourage leaders to take the practice back to their teams! Have them build their own mission and vision statements for their team and projects. This helps everyone understand not only the “what” of their projects, but also the “why.” They will be able to say: “We’re producing abc because xyz.”
By this way of investing in leaders and employees, it gets them to invest in the organization in return. Seeing their values reflected in the values of the organization will lead to increased investment in the outcome. We can all understand that - when doing something we want to do, we’re more inclined to do it, and do it well! Watch productivity, motivation, and morale spike.
3) Ask Them What They Need
Assuming we know what’s best is a waste of time, energy, and resources. Rather than assuming a leader’s productivity has been low because there isn’t enough to do, try giving encouragement to recharge motivation. Rather than wasting the energy and resources to bring new tasks, spend the time recognizing the leader for the work they have done, and encourage them to press on.
Instead, ask them; allow leaders to speak for themselves. Do they feel capable and empowered to complete what is asked of them? Is there anything missing from their toolbox? What can be done to make things easier or better?
On the other end of this is listening without judgment. Enter the conversation with an open mind - their answers might be surprising! Believe what’s said, and work to meet the needs.
4) Offer Growth Opportunities
A part of investing is looking to the future, right? So, what are the leaders expected to accomplish? What are each person’s goals for themselves, for the projects, and the organization’s goals? Do leaders have the tools and the capacity to achieve them?
Finally, is there room for improvement? The answer should always be: yes! There are always areas which can be more efficient, more effective, less encumbered. Create learning opportunities for leaders to improve and hone their skills. Provide the necessary resources for personal, team-related, and organizational growth.
Your Clear Next Step has many useful tools, resources, classes, workshops, etc. for this! Offerings are inclusive to individuals and organizations, covering a wide range of topics. Check out our website for more information!
How are you going to invest in your leaders? Let us know in the comments!