9 Techniques for Improving Leadership Effectiveness for Better Business Results

There is much commentary today on the effectiveness of leadership and its true value in driving bottom line results. Many leaders discount the impact of enhancing their leadership behaviours would have on overall culture and employee experience. Many also think that positive engagement and organizational culture do not directly improve bottom line business results, and ignore the many studies which demonstrate this.  Unfortunately many leaders succumb to increasing day-to-day pressures and do not dedicate time or money to self-improvement or make efforts to focus on enhancing employee engagement.

On June 1st within a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything, comments on “The Only Thing That Really Matters” for leadership.  He recognizes the negative affect on employees who feel undervalued because of lack of acknowledgement or being put down. This has a lasting effect on productivity and commitment to the organization.  He references Doug Conant, outgoing CEO of Campbell Soup, as “a rare example of a CEO who truly appreciates the relationship between personal value and the bottom line”.

The positive affect of basic acknowledgement motivates employees in their work and better engages them in the organization. This ultimately leads to higher productivity and retention.  The very basics of effective leadership activities are what leaders can control to create positive perception of “value”, i.e.  “my leader understands me and what I contribute”.  Effective leadership techniques can be boiled down to:

  1. Giving and receiving effective feedback to enable and support performance and development
  2. Acknowledging employees’ contribution at both an individual level and macro-team level
  3. Within a team, getting to know each employee and recognize what motivates and inspires them
  4. Rewarding strong performance and proactively dealing with performance issues
  5. Creating a sense of fairness, equity and respect within the environment and its processes
  6. Demonstrating a motivating vision of where the company is heading, with a relatable mission which places the customer as the top priority.
  7. Making balanced, timely and effective decisions to keep the business moving forward
  8. Communicating to individuals what their part is in driving organizational success and expected behaviours to make it happen
  9. Involving and challenging team members in shaping their work and growing with and within the organization.

Although these basics seem simple, many leaders forget their value and many times disconnect their actual personal behaviours from their intentions.  To paraphrase Jim Collins in Good to Great, one of the top attributes of Level 5 leadership is the ability to look through the window at the team when things are going well and in the mirror when things are going wrong.  It becomes even more difficult to achieve the same commitment to strong leadership behaviours across a large leadership group.

Convincing a group of leadersto grow their leadership capabilities to create a stronger experience for employees while they are busy managing an effective operations requires focus, diligence and the right mechanisms for development and sustainment. It takes time to enhance leadership functions,  clarify expectations, develop leadership talent, enhance communications, optimize collaboration, reflect on actual leadership effectiveness through feedback and monitoring processes, and relentlessly take the next step to improve leader functioning.  A dedicated focus on a cycle of leadership improvement will pay off in greater employee perception of value, improved engagement, stronger productivity and ultimately better business results.

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