Businesses are complex organisations that involve various departments, in-house teams, associates, and partners. As they grow and expand, these enterprising entities often become even more elaborate and complicated. If a company is to succeed, it needs a system that can manage all these components.
In all successful companies, the glue that keeps all these elements together is proper leadership and management. Within a business, it is the leader’s responsibility to align different teams and create an environment that is conducive to collaboration. With the right type of management, different departments should be able to work together towards a common goal. In most cases, this goal is to increase productivity and to encourage innovation and growth within the business.
Without competent leaders to maintain a certain level of unity, an organisation will almost certainly fall apart and eventually fail.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the importance of workplace leadership and management. We’ll go through the skills that good leaders have and what kind of effect they have on the workplace. We’ll also discuss why it’s worth investing in leadership training and development whether you’re in a small business or a large corporation.
Our hope is that this blog helps both aspiring and current leaders gain a better understanding of what it takes to spearhead a team properly.
Leadership vs. Management
Before anything else, it’s important to understand what we mean by leadership and management. Since these two concepts overlap in a lot of ways, both terms are often used interchangeably. That being said, we believe there are important distinctions that need to be noted.
HBS Professor Nancy Koehn says that leadership mainly involves creating a vision or an overall objective that a team can pursue. At times, a huge part of a leader’s job is convincing their team that a certain objective is worth pursuing. Your objective could be anything from being able to provide utility to people or it could be to create entertainment. Whatever your vision statement is, it should invigorate your team and encourage a positive attitude towards not only the work itself but also towards fellow team members. Essentially, the leader is responsible for the intangibles that carry the company forward.
Management, on the other hand, is more about handling the practical and administrative aspects of a team. This might involve delegating tasks, managing work hours, ensuring that the proper procedures are followed and so on. It’s about maintaining a certain level of control over your team to ensure that tasks are completed in an efficient manner.
While we will use these terms interchangeably, it is still helpful to have these separate definitions in the back of your mind as we discuss various topics.
Benefits of Proper Leadership in The Workplace
- Improves productivity
Perhaps the most important aspect of any business is productivity. If a company can consistently meet its productivity goals, they are more likely to stay in business for years and years to come.
Managers and leaders often help drive productivity up by mentoring employees, providing them with the necessary tools to perform their jobs, and communicating to them the company’s expectations. In short, great leaders help manage a company’s resources and help ensure that each resource is used to its fullest potential.
Leaders are also responsible for ensuring that different teams and departments are aligned and are collaborating as necessary. It is reported that businesses with communicative and well-connected employees see a 20-25% improvement in productivity.
- Increases employee retention
According to a recent CNBC article, unhealthy work cultures, and by extension poor leadership, is the number one reason why workers are quitting their jobs. Other studies have also shown that most workers often leave a company due to poor management. If your managers and team leaders are incompetent, you’ll likely have a hard time keeping talent around.
On the other hand, having experienced and skilled leaders can help improve a company’s employee retention. Great leaders are often able to retain talent because they invest in their team by paying close attention to the needs and concerns of each individual employee. They have a solid understanding of their motivations, their goals, and even the things that annoy them. By having a grasp of each employee’s idiosyncrasies, leaders are able to create a healthy working environment that is tailored to the needs of their team.
- Promotes employee engagement
Employee engagement refers to a worker’s level of dedication towards their work. Multiple studies have shown that the level of employee engagement has a direct impact on overall productivity, level of performance, as well as on the health and well-being of employees. A Forbes article even states that companies with a highly engaged team often see a 21% increase in profitability.
Competent managers and leaders do a lot to improve employee engagement. One of the ways they do this is by giving their employees a sense of purpose. This can be done by clearly laying out the company’s mission objectives, showing employees the results of their work, giving recognition where it’s due, and giving opportunities for professional growth and progression.
According to an article from Harvard Business Review, positive work cultures are more productive over a longer period of time as it promotes healthier working habits and reduces the risk of burnout. Generally speaking, a positive work environment will promote values like respect, trust, empathy, and mutual support.
What Makes a Good Leader?
As mentioned before, leadership is more of a quality that you hone and develop rather than something that is bestowed upon you. If you want to be a great leader, it’s important to understand the skills and qualities that successful leaders have.
Here are some of the main skills of a great leaders:
- The ability to communicate
Perhaps the most important skill that a leader needs to have is the ability to communicate with those around them. Without proper communication, you won’t be able to connect with your team, which in turn, will make it extremely difficult for you to guide them in the right direction.
Nowadays, leaders must be skilled in several forms of communication. This includes talking to the employees individually, leading in-person and video meetings, creating guidelines for departments, emailing clientele, delivering presentations and so on. An understanding of non-verbal communication is also a must in the workplace.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. So, as much as possible, you need to make sure that your colleagues are comfortable with opening up to you. Essentially, this comes down to building trust with your team as well as establishing a strong work relationship with each individual.
- Motivating employees
Great leaders are often great motivators. Here are a few of the methods that you might want to implement if you want to inspire and encourage your colleagues in the workplace:
- Regularly giving recognition to deserving employees
- Providing necessary resources to help them with their work (e.g., better computers, a healthier working environment, etc.)
- Asking for their feedback in regards with working conditions, workload, your management style, and so on
- If you need to provide constructive criticism, make sure to give suggestions for improvement
- Helping them develop professionally either through training or promotions
- Offer monetary incentives to deserving employees
It’s also important to not be too strict with your management style. Make sure you give your team enough space to spread their wings and unleash their creativity. This type of leadership can encourage more collaboration within the team, which can lead to better efficiency, increased worker morale, and higher retention rates. It might even show you who has leadership qualities amongst your subordinates.
- Setting clear objectives
As mentioned before, it’s important to set appropriate objectives as a leader. Having specific goals allows your team to stay focussed and prioritise tasks accordingly. Additionally, goals can also help a team stay motivated. If a team is passionate and motivated about the end goal, their performance will likely improve as well.
To set healthy goals, you need to have a deep understanding of your team’s capacity. If you set goals that are too unrealistic, your employees might become overwhelmed and burnt out. In contrast, if you set goals that are too easy to achieve, your workers might feel bored or demotivated.
Part of being a good leader is being able to set SMART goals that fosters curiosity, motivation and growth within your team. To do this, you need to find the right goals that are just difficult enough to keep the team engaged but not too difficult that they drive your employees away.
Leadership and Management Training
If you think you’re lacking some of the skills and qualities that are discussed in this blog, consider taking a leadership and management course.
In a typical leadership training program, you will learn about:
- Managing workplace relationships and team building
- Delegating and prioritising tasks
- Occupational health and safety regulations
- Developing and implementing operational plans
- Managing risks for a business or a particular department
- Cultural awareness
- Resource allocation, recruitment, and onboarding
Some courses might also provide information regarding some of the more recent changes in the workplace. Remote work, hybrid teams, and AI programs are just a few examples of subjects that modern leaders will need to navigate.
If you’re looking for something more specific, you should contact your nearby course providers to get an idea of what they offer.
It’s worth noting that everyone within an organisation, regardless of their role, can and should develop leadership skills. Being a leader isn’t just about holding large meetings and having a prestigious title next to your name in the email footer. Sometimes it’s about filling in for an absent manager or teaching a newcomer about the basics of their role. So, whether you’re an experienced manager or an eager intern, we hope that you’ve learned something from this article and we hope that it contributes to furthering your career.