If your employees were all volunteers, would they still follow you, or would they up and leave? The days of leading from position are long-gone – it’s not enough to have title, rank or authority as a platform to lead. As the battle for talent takes center stage in this digital age, leaders have to actively grow and intentionally practice their leadership skills if they are to thrive and succeed. A good test for this is to ask yourself, would your team follow you if they didn’t have to?
It goes without saying, that in order to be a leader, you have to have followers – A leader has followers if they truly believe that their leader has their best interests at heart. For this to happen, employees have to feel safe to be who they truly are. Then, and only then, will they trust, follow and fully throw themselves into their leader’s cause. This is true follower-ship.
With disruption in technology today, there is also an exponential rise of confusion within leaders, many of whom find it difficult to connect with a changing digital workforce. This culture can be impatient, fast paced, ever-changing, experimentation driven and information rich. While this could be mistaken as the millennial effect, a recent Forbes article which surveyed leading millennials, gives us an insight that regardless of generation and environment, common sense leadership principles prevailed.
The article captures four key principles to leading millennials:
- Empower your team
- Think long term
- Acknowledge what they do
- Treat them as individuals
What is interesting is that the principles above aren’t at all unique to the environment or types of employees being led. Distilled to its core, the type of leadership required in a digital organization is simply genuine leadership. Despite the changing times, the core skills of leadership have not changed. Employees will follow leaders who have their interests at heart, understand them as individuals and sometimes even make decisions at their cost.
What we see is a rise in employees who are hyper-sensitive to genuine leadership. We often hear employees don’t leave organizations, they leave managers. This couldn’t be more true. It is this that showcases the vital role genuine leadership plays when finding and retaining great talent, which can make or break your organization.
So what makes a Genuine Leader? Here are four characteristics to reflect on,