With the Great Resignation having added to the issues of the ongoing pandemic, many employers are now wondering how to adjust to a rapidly changing workforce. Workers are now reconsidering their careers, thinking about starting their own businesses, and prioritizing better work-life balance as a response to COVID-19.
Young employees in particular are also focusing more on choosing their employers wisely. According to HR Dive’s report on hiring Gen Z, 63% of Gen Z respondents felt that it was extremely important to work for an employer who shared their values towards mental health, diversity, equity, and inclusion. So how should business leaders adapt to this increasingly powerful talent pool and its prevailing considerations? Here are four key qualities every modern leader should cultivate:
People are good at detecting when a leader is being disingenuous or superficial, and those qualities raise a lot of red flags. To build strong connections with potential hires, you must demonstrate authenticity and integrity as core attributes. A leader who is honest and trustworthy can drive positive change because his or her teams trust in them. Team members and prospective hires also want to see leaders who can apologize sincerely and ask for help, because this demonstrates that they are open to learning and growing.
Authenticity and vulnerability should be balanced with emotional stability as well. According to research from the University of California - Riverside, emotions like anger, fear, and remorse are strongly associated with ineffective leadership, particularly given that a leader’s emotions are contagious and can spread throughout the team. It’s therefore important to balance authenticity with positive and constructive emotions.
In a world driven by fast-paced technological change, leaders should be brave enough to venture in new directions for continued success. They should maintain an innovative, entrepreneurial approach towards problem-solving. By demonstrating courage in innovation, you can create a psychological safety net for others. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't still make careful decisions and think about potential outcomes. It simply indicates you take calculated risks and learn from your mistakes.
Team members likewise appreciate leaders who are bold and unafraid in their thinking, but also capable of communicating a clear vision that everyone can share. Remember, you’re the captain of the ship — you need to lead your team to its optimal destination.
In the aftermath of our recent shared experiences, business recovery is directly dependent on people's recoveries. A Human Resource Executive piece on human-centric leadership notes that employees are the heartbeat of every company, so leadership should focus on their physical and emotional wellbeing. Leaders should learn to be people-oriented even before being results-oriented. This is actually not only a pandemic realization either, but rather an idea that's taken hold in management education in recent years. As Maryville University’s outlook on management and leadership program states for those pursuing avenues toward company leadership, management is "about people." The most important skill for a manager is the ability to build relationships.
While qualities like good communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and trust-building skills are part of the package, a truly great leader will know how to work with people and apply what they know in real-life scenarios. Leaders should show employees that they are genuinely cared for through words and actions. In doing so, you can create a positive, happy workplace.
Executives work hard to cultivate a strong presence, but often employees just want to meet leaders who are accessible and approachable. Here, the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is critical. Empathy allows you to build trust with your staff. It doesn’t mean you agree with them all the time; rather, you appreciate their experiences and support them through difficulties.
As we said in our post entitled ‘Self-Care and Leadership’, leaders should model empathy, care, and kindness towards others and themselves. Only by doing so can you instill a culture of support, which is essential for any healthy business to thrive.
Cultivate and maintain these qualities and you'll be well on your way to becoming an effective modern leader.
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