Standing Tall: Two lessons on (great) leadership that apply to every company
February 13, 2019
The concept of leadership has been prevalent throughout the history of mankind, it has paved the way for civilizations’ successes, as well as their collapses. The same applies to organizations in today’s highly competitive corporate world, where leaders must be able to guide, influence, and motivate their employees to achieve certain mutual goals through various approaches. The concept of leadership is of additional importance in the startup world. As, in this day and age, it is very well-recognized that embarking on an entrepreneurial career can be extremely risky, as many startups perish within a short period of time of being established, due to many various factors that can weigh down the newly started company.
In order for entrepreneurs to have a much higher chance of success, they must follow a strategic entrepreneurial path, which through pursuing certain opportunities, can create value for a startup, or add value to an already established firm. Taking this into account, entrepreneurs must search thoroughly for potential opportunities that might have been missed by other companies, including leadership styles.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for directing their organization onto a certain path, each entrepreneur using his or her distinctive methods. Aspects such as the type of product or service that the organization provides, as well as their corporate culture sets them apart from others, require different management and leadership techniques.
All businesses are reliant on networks of relationships between individuals and teams, both on an internal and external level. The relationships that are set are of huge value to the organization as they ultimately aid the organization to establish a strong foothold in the market against competitors and these relationships are a product of effective leadership. Entrepreneurs must be able to configure and focus the resources of their organization, including employees, with the opportunities that they are pursuing. Here are two main lessons on leadership that apply to every company, straight out of the human resource management world.
1. KNOW THAT YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING BY YOURSELF
Organizations with multidivisional corporate structures are usually split into different departments led by teams with various roles, but with the same mission that goes along side with yours, the entrepreneur. Teams make up a major part of an organization and are vital for efficiency and productivity, as they engage in various roles within the organization, such as adapting to new innovations and regulations, strategic development of products, and manufacturing. Startups in particular may face a greater challenge in this regard, as the business is no longer a one-person-show, and it is vital that delegation and team building are present.
But once you’ve established teams within your organization and assigned roles and responsibilities, how do you keep them motivated enough and trust their productivity?
The productivity of the teams within your organization is heavily correlated to the effectiveness of your own management and leadership efforts and strategies. You should consider investing in coordinated efforts to provide a healthy workplace for your employees, as to bring out the best in them. According to the Bayt.com Infographic: Teams in the MENA Workplace, 90% of professionals in the MENA region find that teams are a very important part of their satisfaction at work. This research study conducted by Bayt.com emphasizes the importance of teams when it comes to the overall satisfaction of employees, as it can ultimately influence their motivation and productivity at work.
In order for you to increase the productivity of your teams, certain aspects and concepts must be taken into account, as they can heavily influence their coherence and productivity. For example, the size of the team and the cooperativeness of its members can heavily impact the productivity of the team. As well as the work environment that they work in, management and leadership, and the level of group development and maturity.
When dealing with a team, there are various methods that you can consider adopting, in order for you to construct an efficient and healthy workplace, and ultimately increase productivity of your employees. Here are two that are worth considering:
HIGHLIGHTING THE BENEFITS
This method focuses on motivating employees by including their benefit in the equation. You’ll need to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work through positive reimbursement such as financially rewarding employees for high productivity, in order to increase their motivation to work more efficiently. This can be done by increasing their annual bonuses, pensions, benefits and salaries, or it can be more symbolic such as public recognition and inviting the high achiever to brainstorming sessions and management meetings.
Also, this method suggests that you should distribute job tasks into selected teams with specialization and efficiency in mind. By doing this, you can selectively allocate each subtask to a member of the team according to their skills and qualifications and monitor their performance, which, according to the Bayt.com Ethical Leadership in the Middle East and North Africa report, can “motivate and empower” employees. If you haven’t yet identified each employee’s efficiency points and specializations, then spend some time exploring their work, giving them small but diverse projects, and/or having an honest discussion with them about their strengths and preferences.
FULFILLING HIGH PRIORITY NEEDS
This method focuses on motivating employees according to their “hierarchy of needs,” which consist of their “physiological needs,” “safety needs,” “social needs,” and “self-actualization.” Firstly, it is recommended to provide all of the hierarchy of needs to your valued employees, as well as give them the ability, if possible, to choose benefits that are most suitable to their wants and needs such as child care vouchers vs. free gym memberships. These needs are by no means removed from the workplace. For instance, meeting your employees’ “safety needs” is of extreme importance, where more than 9 in 10 respondents to the 2018 Bayt.com poll, Health and Wellbeing in the MENA, state that employers are responsible to promote health and wellbeing at work. The obvious method of covering the safety needs of your employees is providing a safe and healthy workplace. But this is also about offering flexible working cycles for overloaded employees, enhancing employees’ sense of job security, maintaining a good health insurance option for all employees, and communicating with employees regarding their various health needs.
When it comes to meeting the social needs of your employees, 80% of respondents to the 2018 Bayt.com Ideal Workplace in the Middle East and North Africa survey feel that “transparent communication” is important in the workplace. This emphasizes the importance of having open communication in your organization, which can be achieved through having a culture that focuses on transparency and cohesion. Having an open-door policy, where employees can easily approach you and each other to discuss certain issues, can be highly rewarding for employees’ social needs. Also, you can build and cement relationships between team members by initiating regular informal group huddles where employees gather and can discuss important issues and objectives as they arise. Lastly, you can meet your employee’s self-actualization needs by providing them with stimulating tasks such as project leadership as well as continuous learning and development material. According to the 2018 Bayt.com Ideal Workplace in the Middle East and North Africa survey, training and development opportunities (36%) and opportunities for long-term career advancement (32%) are the key drivers of loyalty after salary, which can shed light on the extent of interest that employees have for their own development and growth.
2. KNOW WHERE YOU ARE NEEDED, AND BE THERE TO LEAD
Being there for your employees is already a prerequisite, but being where you are needed is essential. For example, let’s say you’re the general manager of a certain website whose traffic has recently experienced a sharp decrease for an unknown reason, the right place for you to be is at the marketing department leading them on the mission to identify the source of the issue and to appropriately address it. Even if you’re needed somewhere else, you need to know where you are needed the most and prioritize it, while trusting your other employees and teams to operate independently.
This example can shed light on the flexibility of leadership, where different styles can be used according to the circumstances and resources, each with a different level of authority, where you can be extremely involved in certain issues of the organization, while being somewhat distant with others.
Sometimes, company leaders resort to an autocratic approach with very high levels of authority and direction, which can be useful for employees that require more guidance and supervision or situations that require an immediate response. On the flip side, successful leadership revolves around the concepts of negotiating, consulting, and sharing ideas and thoughts, which can be a very healthy method of engaging teams and employees and generating more ideas and effective brainstorming sessions. Lastly, a laissez-faire approach is of great use. Adopting a minimal to no managerial involvement leadership style can build a sense of accountability and personal ownership among employees, while also helping management allocate their time efficiently.
Effective leaders do not look at the various leadership approaches as mutually exclusive. In fact, they systematically switch between multiples styles depending on what the situation at hand requires. This is a key area through which leaders know when to allocate limited time and resources and when to delegate and see what unfolds from their teams’ efforts.
By Suhail Al-Masri