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3 Ways to Lead with a People-First Perspective

Leading people is hard, and the reason it’s so hard is a simple, yet categorically challenging thing: people.

That’s right, the challenge with leading people isn’t your leadership skills or the nature of your business; it’s the people themselves.

The reason being, every single one of them is different and come with a whole host of expectations, talents, limitations and experiences.

Recent studies indicate financial motivation is no longer enough to keep employees satisfied. If you think writing a couple of bonus checks will keep your employees happy, guess again!

In fact, a 2016 study conducted by Fidelity showed over 58% of workers prefer “improved quality of work life” over financial benefits!

Luckily, there are three leadership practices you can put into effect immediately, to start leading with a people-first perspective.

1. Commitment

That is, to your employees. In a study conducted by Stanford University, researchers found organizations that relied on “emotional or familial ties of employees to the organization, selection based on cultural fit, and peer-group control” outperformed all other leadership styles.

The reason behind their findings point to one single idea, encouragement.

Employees carried the residual benefits of an encouraging word after a success or in a time of challenge far more than a monetary gain.

Monetary gains are a surefire method for instant, yet short-lived boosts in motivation, but ultimately they lead to false expectations and entitlement.

Employees may begin to expect monetary incentive after every success, which can lead to discouragement or resentment when you don’t meet their expectations.

Compliments and verbal praise hold greater weight because they are intentional. They require a personal, human interaction, leaving a greater impression and feeling of appreciation.

If you want to build stronger ties with your employees, show your appreciation specifically for who they are, not just the work they do.

2. Autonomy

Lead less and get more out of your employees.

No one wants to be shackled to their desk or confined by a rigid set of rules, metaphorically or literally.

According to Daniel Pink, a regular TEDTalks speaker, “autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, enhanced persistence, higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being.”

Granting your employees greater autonomy inherently indicates a certain level of trust you have for their abilities and performance.

In turn, this understanding can encourage employees to assume greater responsibility for their work and thus greater results.

One way experts recommend inviting more autonomy into the workplace is by holding fewer meetings. In fact, it’s estimated excessive meetings waste anywhere from 25-50% of working hours and benefit leaders more than their teams.

One way to start loosening your grip is by establishing periodic meetings, perhaps weekly or biweekly and sticking to a predefined schedule.

That means no last minute, spur of the moment meetings. Before each meeting establish a course of action and decide what you will cover.

Also, give it a time limit, which will encourage yourself and others to get to the point and avoid the fluff.

Autonomy can be a hard pill to swallow for many leaders, stemming from a fear that others will fail. If this is the case, you want to assess if it’s because of who you hired or a case of how you’re leading.

3. Agility

Agile leadership takes a hand from commitment and autonomy, wrapped up in one neat package.

The idea goes something like this: leaders empower their teams with responsibility and the confidence that doing so will lead to satisfied, passionate, long-term commitments.

Agile leadership is everywhere, under the disguise of other names: trust, self-management, autonomy, transparency and so on.

The best companies in the world to work at acknowledge and utilize this frame of mind and benefit from a host of happy, hard-working and commitment employees.

Remote working is a prime example of agile leadership. More than ever, employees are working from anywhere and some never even have to show their faces in the office.

In fact, there’s a 243% increase in remote workers compared to 2013, and the numbers are growing.

A core component of agile leadership is entrusting decision-making power to those “closest to the problem.”

That is, allowing teams to make autonomous decisions, big and small with full trust in their capabilities. If you don’t trust your employees to make autonomous decisions, why did you hire them at all?

The art of great leadership is the ability to adapt and change. Sticking to your guns and denying the possibility of a better way to lead will inevitably lead to dissatisfied teams and less than optimal results.

How are you going to implement a “people first” perspective into your leadership to achieve the results and lifestyle you want?

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3 Ways to Lead with a People-First Perspective
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Leading people is hard, and the reason it’s so hard is a simple, yet categorically challenging thing: people. Luckily, there are three leadership practices you can put into effect immediately, to start leading with a people-first perspective.
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