Leading with a people-first mentality means recognizing every member of your team has unique skills, expectations, limitations, and experiences.
Sounds easier said than done, as leaders have to adapt their leadership style to work with and motivate each.
For example, over 58% of workers prefer “improved quality of work life” over financial benefits. That is, they value their relationships to leadership, their team members, and communication more than a pay raise incentive.
When it comes to leading with a people-first perspective, three leadership traits come to mind.
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.
Here’s why: Employees carried the residual benefits of an encouraging word after a success or in a time of challenge far more than a monetary gain.
The problem with monetary incentive is employees may begin to expect monetary incentive after every success, which can lead to discouragement or resentment when their expectations aren’t met.
Compliments and verbal praise hold greater weight because they are intentional.
If you want to build stronger ties with your employees, show your appreciation specifically for who they are, not just the work they do.
Lead less and get more out of your employees.
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.”
Employees with greater autonomy feel more trusted by their employers and subsequently, assume greater responsibility for their work and produce greater results.
One way to increase autonomy is to minimize meetings to only the necessities. It is estimated excessive meetings waste anywhere from 25-50% of working hours and benefit leaders more than their teams.
Establish periodic meetings, perhaps weekly or biweekly and stick to a predefined schedule. Give it a time limit, which will encourage yourself and others to get to the point and avoid the fluff.
If you struggle with giving your team more autonomy, ask yourself if it’s because of who you hired or of how you’re leading.
Agile leadership takes a hand from commitment and autonomy, wrapped up in one neat package.
Consider 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.
Remote working is a prime example of agile leadership. There is an over 243% increase in remote workers compared to 2013.
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.
The ability of leaders to adapt and change will reinforce stronger interpersonal relationships and lead to more satisfied employees who produce great results.
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