Blog post originally published on 5/23/2012.
As you begin to consider what it means to keep your followers’ best interest at heart, you may find yourself wondering what specifically does it look like to do this?
In his Executive Coaching Tips podcast from January 2012, Tom Henschel speaks about this idea of leading with true interest in the workplace. He lists eleven key action items that represent behaviors employees are looking for in executive leadership. I’ve summarized them below with my own spin. A leader who genuinely offers at least three to four of these behaviors will in all likelihood have a solid group of productive and satisfied employees.
1. Be sure employees understand their job: Have you ever been employed to do a job that you weren’t quite clear on? Many times this leads to heightened stress, confusion and resentment of the employer. Employees need to have a clear understanding of their role, but also understand how his or her role contributes to the good of the whole.
2. Offer lots of feedback – both praise and developmental
There are few things more frustrating than not knowing if you’re doing a good enough job. As the leader, you have a chance to put your employees mind at ease by either letting them know they are doing a good job, or letting them know what they need to work on.
3. Create opportunities for new responsibilities
There is nothing wrong with routine; however, no hope for change can be discouraging and even distracting to employees.
4. Allow employees to have high visibility
Let’s be honest, as the leader, you spend a lot of time in the limelight. Giving your employees a chance to be center stage will not only build their confidence but will also develop their interpersonal skills. Show your employees you trust them and give them the opportunity to be seen.
5. Position people for further growth and development
It is a near mathematical certainty that those in stagnate jobs are significantly more inefficient than those who have the motivation to continually grow. Let your employees know right off the bat of the path that exists and that every day is a step closer to a further growth and development. Watch their productivity explode as their motivation increases.
6. Be the resource they need
How can you expect your employees to work diligently for you if you are not readily accessible? Be approachable and allow your employees to ask you questions. They need you! Otherwise, they’d be leading you!
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7. Provide professional development
What are you doing to facilitate professional development for your employees? External training is great, but that needs to be supplemented by an internal culture for learning. Education never stops; continue offering opportunities for your employees to learn and develop skills.
8. Offer career development
Your employees have personal goals beyond just being successful in your company. In most cases, their professional career will not start and stop with you! As their boss you have the opportunity to prepare them for their professional future. As you help them to develop their skills, you can equip them for their future. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a call in ten years from a former employee thanking you for how you prepared them?
9. Be fair
Treat your employees as you would like to be treated with both sympathy for their position and empathy for having been in their position. Just like your mother told you, use the golden rule!
10. Tell your team how to succeed with you
There is little motivation to be had for employees that think they are only ushering you into success. Let them share in the success, but help them to understand how what they are doing is contributing to that success!
11. Share the view from your vantage point
As the boss, you have information about your company and its interests that your employees do not. While some information is classified, you can’t always assume the “mundane” stuff is obvious to them. Share what you know so that they can view their work the same way you do.
Though Tom Henschel developed this list with the workplace in mind (the employer-employee relationship), it fully translates to general leadership. Are you demonstrating any of these behaviors toward your followers? While no one leader will demonstrate all of these behaviors on a consistent basis, they are guidelines that will keep your followers following you.
What would you add to this list?