Modern Leadership: Make It Personal

woman of color presenting to room of people in windowed office

By Metz ti Bryan, founding partner & production leader at The Or.

Inclusive leadership is on the rise as organisations prioritise building a deeper understanding and stronger relationships between managers and their team members.

In a landscape where we always feel time-poor, the modern leader must put time and effort into developing one-to-one connections with their teams to better understand how each person is motivated, inspired and how they prefer to be managed. The one size fits all approach of yesteryear will not cut it in the digital and connected world we now inhabit that is increasingly putting mental health at the forefront.

If left unchanged, ‘old school’ leadership can result in an unmotivated team who lack the full context of company decisions. It is a model not fit for our new ways of working, where we must look to keep evolving and improving.

In fact, this survey by consulting firm EY found that 54% of respondents had left a previous job because their boss was oblivious to their struggles at work and 49% due to the same in their personal lives.

How Managers Can Get It Right

We live in an age of hyper communication and accountability, and what a company says and how it behaves matters. Employees want more from their jobs, work relationships and their leaders. We are collectively demanding better; so much so that it is one of the biggest psychological shifts we are experiencing as a society, but how is it really going?

The ‘Great Resignation’ was a great indicator that the employee-organisational relationship was broken and had to change. Employees, tired of broken promises, being overlooked and feeling underappreciated, sought better opportunities and aligned themselves with companies that put values and wellbeing ahead of financial gain. Employees have since cited, as referenced here on at EY, empathetic leadership as a function to build loyalty between them and their leaders – which should be noted as firms look for ways to find and retain talent.

Leaders must tune into the why, and deeply understand people’s individual and collective motivations and influencing factors. That way they can truly discern the challenges somebody is facing and how it influences their actions and decision making.

When considering the attributes of a modern leader, organisations need to consider what employees think and apply that criteria to develop leaders within their organisations. Some sought after attributes include:

  • Being open and transparent
  • Being fair
  • Someone who follows through on action
  • One that encourages others to share their opinions
  • Proven to be trusted to handle difficult conversations

The Different Methods of Inclusive Leadership

According to the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) published here, there are 6 Cs to inclusive leadership: communication, collaboration, creative problem solving, commitment, courage and cultural competence.

Inclusive leaders are supportive and build relationships to build a culture of inclusion. They help align their teams to a common purpose and involve every team member in decision making. Having these traits will build loyalty, employee satisfaction and passion, a great hack for productivity and innovation.

How a Change in Approach Can Improve Agency Life

Not only is it nice for leaders to build personal relationships with employees, but it is also fast becoming a must. Leaders must make it a habit to understand their team members so they can be at their best, be more fulfilled and to collaborate better with others.

Companies that invariably put their employees first often find that they are more invested in the company’s success and that of their teammates. This aids efficiency, improves talent retention and ultimately will be good for the bottom line. When you build a culture of understanding and acceptance, the prosperity will follow.

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