Today’s workforce requires good leadership now more than ever. But what are the qualities and why are they so important?
The millennial workforce does not feel the need to stay with a company for 20 or 30 years. They are the entrepreneurial generation. Working the career ladder within one company is not what they aspire to. According to a study from Bentley University, 67% of the millennial generation want to start their own business. They are Ok with leaving a company and not afraid to use their expertise and knowledge to start or become part of a growing, innovative company. So what are those leadership qualities?
Authentic leadership is key. Authentic leaders help themselves and others do the right thing for a common good. They know how to set direction, build and inspire a vision to create something new.
Authentic leaders are positive people who promote openness. They know how to generate enthusiastic support from peers and subordinates to improve individual and team performance. They are self aware and genuine and know that leadership is a process that requires constant work. They are mission driven and do not let their ego and arrogance get in the way of results.
Authentic leaders lead from “within” which means they are not afraid to be vulnerable and get personal. They communicate directly with empathy to make a connection with their employees. Authentic leaders have patience and know that they also traveled a path to success. And their employees are on a similar path. That success is not a straight line but it encompasses twists and turns.
Communication is and has always been an important quality in leadership. The millennial generation was brought up differently than baby boomers. As millennial children, “we all win” and “positive reinforcement” was the norm from their parents. They are working now and want and expect similar qualities from a leader. They work hard, are smart, want to advance and want to be rewarded for their efforts. They want to know, that what they are doing, is valued and and important to the organization.
When leadership instills positivity and humor, employees take note. Creating an atmosphere where it can be fun yet productive is key. When leadership creates a positive environment and delivers the message in a light-hearted way, a fun learning environment exists. Today’s workers feel it is important to like what they are doing and enjoy the environment in which they can succeed. That work can be a positive experience and not drudgery.
We know that the next leadership level is comprised of millennials and a multicultural environment. In order to have success, management needs to do things differently. Leadership needs to be inclusive and encourage feedback from their direct reports. But what is required for that feedback to take place?
Feedback is one of the most important elements in leadership. It helps employees and leaders to learn and grow. When there is a trusting, safe environment, feedback flows naturally. The leader’s door is open for conversation.
Feedback that comes from multiple directions, both direct reports and teams, allow the leader to know what is working and what is needed. Feedback from all levels comes when the team feels safe and the leader is open and honest. Conducting regular and informal meetings encourages peer, direct and team reports to offer feedback.
Feedback needs to be delivered on a regular and timely basis. This is not to say that quarterly or annual feedback should not be done. But regular, more informal feedback is more important. If a new project has been put into place, ask for feedback along the way. Do not wait till the end. It is important to zig and zag in the creation phase till the project offers the best possible outcome.
At weekly meetings, open the floor to questions that impart discussions. When you ask “What”, “Why” or “How”, you build an inclusive environment. Questions such as “What is working” “How else can we do it better” creates a solution driven atmosphere. Solutions lead to new creative ideas and improved results.
Leadership today requires one to build, inspire and create a path for learning and growing.
Colleen Cassel is a Speaker, Author and Coach working with organizations and business leaders to impact performance and overall well being. Together they work on leadership and organizational effectiveness to create thriving careers and work environments. She draws on her success in the Corporate world and as a founder of her own business, Upstream Solutions, to inspire and motivate clients and audiences to impact growth and find their sweet spots. Colleen Cassel has led teams and mentored individuals to success throughout her 25 years in business. As a former Director of Advertising Sales for CBS Television and Cablevision, she managed and exceeded budgets in excess of $10 million. She was responsible for directing and creating sales strategies for senior executives, sports professionals and national clients.
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