5 Habits of Successful Business Leaders
One of the most serious risks for the UK economy is not China experiencing a hard landing, the potential loss of the steel industry, or even Brexit. Low productivity amongst British workers is causing a serious drag on the economy and profitability.
Business leaders are far from blameless. Management in the UK performs ‘significantly below’ more efficient competitors, such as the US, Japan and Germany, according to an LSE study published in The Economist.
Furthermore, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) say that four out of five bosses are ‘accidental managers’; people who are good at what they do earning themselves a promotion, whereby they are managing others, without formal training or support. Perhaps it should be no surprise that where ‘the cult of the gifted amateur prevails’, performance isn’t going to excel. Accidental managers struggle in their roles, forcing their teams to muddle through, dragging down productivity and morale.
Business Leaders – Habits To Cultivate
Business leaders who find that managers are struggling should first look at the performance of their leadership teams, to see how to implement changes that will carry the whole organisation forward. Here are five habits that could make a significant difference to management performance in your company.
1. Focus on soft skills
Leaders with technical proficiency – all the knowledge to the job – can often overlook the social aspect of management roles. In many respects, that’s the key to being a high-performance leader: people. At the end of the day, management is all about motivating and encouraging others to perform at their best.
Getting too mired in the technical aspects of any role is a sure-fire way to miss the human element. Get to know those working in your team. Learn what drives them, their strengths, weaknesses, fears, hopes and dreams. Only when you know them better can you assess how to motivate and support them to hit and exceed targets.
2. Motivate through purpose-orientated goals
Doing work without understanding the overall purpose is an uninspiring and thankless task. Purpose motivates employees. Purpose can empower them to make an extra effort and work harder to achieve a goal.
Research shows that workers with a purpose are 20% more likely to stay with an organisation and are 64% more fulfilled than those who aren’t given a purpose.
3. Cultivate optimism
Optimism isn’t exactly a British trait. We tend to look outside on a sunny day and except the rain. When it comes to leadership, this approach is always going to be counterproductive.
The first habit-change to implement is to ensure your team has a clear sense of purpose. A sense of purpose, something that challenges and inspires them. Next, is to keep them motivated. Fear works, e.g. explain what could happen should a sales team fail to hit targets. But positive language and incentives are far more efficient in the long-term.
An optimistic attitude is the best way to ensure your team keeps putting in the work, especially when you are aiming to hit big goals. Positive mindset sustains, whereas negative ones drain energy and drag down efficiency and team morale.
4. Support a work / life balance
The recession knocked the idea of having a work / life balance off the agenda for most businesses. Putting in the extra hours seemed to be the only way to stay ahead, even at the expense of family, friends and having any semblance of a life. In the long run, this is hugely demotivating.
Respect your employees’ time off. Show that you care about them having time to decompress, recharge and come back to work more motivated than ever. Managers who send out-of-hours emails (and always expect a reply) are setting a bad example. It signals that work is more important than those doing the tasks, forcing your team to put in extra hours, subsequently reducing their energy and focus during the working day.
Be mindful of the fact that not everyone – including leaders – should think about work 24/7. The best managers should work hard to get the best out of people in the office or during the working hours relevant to your industry and environment.
5. Look for off-the-beaten-track solutions
Some challenges don’t have simple solutions. Especially when these are recurring challenges and previous methods to fix them have proved unsuccessful. Capable leaders should know when to give up and attempt something new.
Sometimes this means bringing in a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective. According to our 2015 Business Opinion and Satisfaction Survey (BOSS), which involved 100 interviews of business leaders from SMEs to the FTSE 350, interim managers are an effective way to tackle problems with new and innovative solutions. Some organisations – 32% of those surveyed – have used over 20 interims, with 75% of business leaders confident that an interim can make a company more competitive.
Unlike management consultants, interims embed themselves in an organisation and ensure that learnings are passed on directly to those who will continue to implement solutions long after their contract has ended. Hence the popularity of interims amongst those British business leaders.
High-performance business leaders get more from their teams when they focus on supporting others, rather than micro-managing every function on their team. Your job is to drive results, which although hard and tangible, only come from adeptly using ‘soft’ skills. Creating a meaningful, positive, results-driven work experience, where staff want to succeed, is the best way to beat the competition and the UK’s productivity slump.
If you have a business topic you are passionate about, and would like to write a blog on, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.