This is the final installment in a series we’ve been featuring about key leadership traits based on a report published earlier this year by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm.
“Over 90 percent of CEOs are already planning to increase investment in leadership development,” the report reads, “because they see it as the single most important human-capital issue their organisations face. And they’re right to do so: earlier McKinsey research has consistently shown that good leadership is a critical part of organisational health, which is an important driver of shareholder returns.”
Most likely, you’re among the 90 percent of executives or leadership team members who will seek to leverage the talents of your people this year. However, be cautioned not to invest in leadership development programs blindly. If you truly want to build leaders who can take your organisation to new heights and make impactful contributions as part of a strong team, it would be in your best interest to pay heed to specific traits.
In other words, don’t invest in programs that are too general and unfocused. McKinsey & Company surveyed 189,000 individuals across 81 organisations around the world and found that the strongest companies featured leaders with certain traits.
Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically
You may have heard that communication is key in any relationship. It’s the same between leaders and their teams. A great leader knows how to communicate effectively and does so both prolifically and enthusiastically. Some of the ways they accomplish this is by: being good listeners (instead of waiting to speak, they take the effort to truly listen to what their employee is saying), organizing their thoughts (they make sure their message is clear), and conveying a narrative (always connect an employee’s task to the overall big picture so that the employee is then inspired to do their best work). It’s important to make communication a constant in your organisation. Ensure that your employees have multiple opportunities to hear from leaders when needed. Also ensure that you’re communicating through multiple platforms—emails, face-to-face discussions, video conferences, etc. Lastly, maintain ‘office hours’ where employees have the opportunity to bring any concerns to their leaders, allowing them to feel that the organisation truly values their input and contribution.
Great leaders mentor their employees. In fact, last year the Harvard Business Review published an article that said “if you’re not helping people develop, you’re not management material.” To get the most out of your team members, you need to understand how to harness their strengths, interests, and passions to create greater value for your organisation. One way to do this is to act as a role model for your team. Demonstrate how you invest in your own personal and professional development and in doing so, you’ll set an example. Turn every situation into a learning experience. When a company goal is reached, discuss the outcome but also what team members learned along the way. Get to know your employees. Ask them what their goals are and what they feel their gaps in learning are. Help them to see how their tasks are linked to organisational values. Coach them in their areas of improvement and connect them with the resources they need to build their skill set.
Keep group organised and on task
Keeping a group organised and on task requires clearly communicating the purpose at hand and establishing concrete goals. Having a written agenda is a great way to keep everyone on track during initial meetings. Following the meeting, it’s essential to track performance. Have systems in place that will measure the level of effort, progress, and results accomplished by your team members. A good leader knows how to delegate tasks and then hold people accountable for them. Don’t be afraid to give employees total ownership of a task. Your team will be able to work more effectively if their leader isn’t spread too thin across numerous projects.
Before you invest in your next leadership development program, examine the exact traits you wish for your team members to embody. By focusing on specific characteristics, you’ll develop stronger leaders who can better your organisation and release its true potential.