By Sallina Jeffrey
Founder and CEO
It is a leader’s role to engage, motivate and inspire their team to achieve desired goals. Whether they are financial or to meet specific metrics, at the end of it all, being in business is about achieving results through an engaged team. What is a leader? Brown describes "A leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and dares to develop that potential.” To achieve greatly, leaders know they need a team of engaged followers who are willing to go the distance with them; but what happens when leaders find themselves in a place where their followers become disengaged and don’t want to follow them? Leadership is about relationships, the most significant factor to deep and meaningful relationships is trust; building trust takes time and hard work, it can also break in an instant; what many leaders fail to realise is that followers watch their leaders’ actions, remember the old saying, “actions speak louder than words.” A leader’s actions either will build or decay trust.
"A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and dares to develop that potential.”
Unfortunately, some leaders strive for results for their self-interests; leaders who lead for their self-interest need to consider the impact this approach has on an individual's performance. Goffee & Jones conducted a study on what makes the best workplace on earth, they uncovered the key factor to why a follower will either follow or not follow a Leader; simply put, an individual will not follow a leader if they feel they are not authentic. The study also revealed that executives felt that to be an authentic leader, they need to work for an authentic organisation. The purpose of the study was to understand how executives described the organisation of their dreams, taking into consideration industry, circumstance and individual ambition, they found six common imperatives.
1. A company where individual differences are nurtured
2. Information is not suppressed or spun
3. The organisation adds value to employees rather than merely extracting it from them
4. The organisation stands for something meaningful
5. The work itself is intrinsically rewarding
6. There are no stupid rules – my favourite
Let People Be Themselves
I recently discussed a business owner with a friend whom we both knew, a business that boasted loyal followers, followers that would go above and beyond for this owner. They recently needed some help from a voluntary perspective, and hardly anyone pitched in, and then we started trying to understand why only a few years ago, when this business needed help, everyone and anyone jumped in to lend a hand? What changed, what were the contributing factors to this change? I saw the shift around two years ago, I noticed that their social media became a place to promote only the perfect clients and the beginners, and imperfectly perfect individuals were overlooked. They took for granted the long-existing clients, and the new clients were fussed all over. This unsaid perfectionism, created this culture where people unconsciously or consciously started to conform and push themselves more to meet the perfectionist culture. A healthy culture is where people feel they can show up as their whole selves and are encouraged to shine no matter how imperfectly perfect they are.
A good culture is where people feel at home to be themselves and are encouraged to shine no matter how imperfectly perfect they are
Hold the Hard and Honest Conversations
Organisations with a culture of open communication don't deceive, distort, or spin the truth to save face; like anything in life, it is better, to tell the truth to individuals than those finding out the truth from someone or from somewhere else. It shows respect for the individuals who need to know the truth, no matter how hard the conversation might be, and this is even more crucial in times of volatility. Information needs to be entirely candid and the whole picture needs to be communicated clearly and timely.
Let People Shine
Remember earlier; we defined a Leader as someone who engages, inspires and motivates. At face value, not everyone is excellent, but if supported right and given the environment and opportunity to be great, they can be. Goffee and Jones state that "The ideal company makes its best employees better - and the least of them better than they ever thought they could be". With the rise of technology, automation and AI, skill shortages are rising, and the talent competition is fierce. Considering the sales approach; for example, it is more cost-effective to upsell a current client than sell to a new client. This same principle applies to up-skilling and developing existing staff, rather than looking outside the organisation to recruit highly skilled and technically savvy individuals; unfortunately this is faced with the challenge that many leaders are rewarded for reducing labour costs rather than a longer-term goal of improving engagement and retention. If leaders don’t foster growth, the best people will leave or not consider you at all, the real challenge that leaders face is how to make it meaningful for people to stay.
"The ideal company makes its best employees better - and the least of them better than they ever thought they could be"
Stand for Something that the World Needs and Provide Meaning
I founded The Mentoring Movement because I believe that everyone deserves to be happy at work and why shouldn't they be, and they can be when they work for an organisation that considers putting people before profit leading to more sustainable growth. The Millennial generation is known for their questioning of the status quo in the workplace, including their desire to work for companies that give back to society and are making a difference for more meaningful and fulfilling work-life; this generation will choose to work and support an organisation doing good in the world over a high profile and profitable brand. It isn't just the Millennial generation that seeks more meaning in their work; it is a natural human desire to derive meaning from an individuals daily activities. Companies that put profit before people will not thrive now, and into the future, profit should be the outcome of more meaningful goals and companies adopting this way of operating are thriving. Many argue against this approach, but remember this is the generation of the future and they are setting the standards, not organisations demanding how the standards need to be. This isn't a new approach, but unfortunately, many companies have lost their sense of making a difference globally with their fight to gain market share and increase profit.
Rules People Can Believe in, Not Stupid Rules
Many people have claimed that their dream organisation is free from arbitrary rules; it is essential to note that organisations need rules and structure; otherwise, how will anything get done or measured. Implementing systemisation need not lead to bureaucratisation if people understand why the rules are being implemented and view them as legitimate. Establishing rules is no different to understanding what your customers want and why and then delivering on those expectations. People will not be their whole selves nor feel free to be innovative if restricted by rules that they don't understand or view as a roadblock to them achieving in their role. People thrive on needing to feel a sense of moral authority for the importance of their contribution to the organisation's overall goal. The organisations that are forging ahead in this area share the common goal of generating revenue; however, they are unusual in their approach and not conventional large-scale organisations.
People will not be their whole selves nor feel free to be innovative if restricted by rules that they don't understand or view as a roadblock to them achieving in their role.
Work can be rewarding, exciting and liberating; it can also be alienating, exploitative, and demoralising when met with hierarchy who are looking out for their self-interests. Goffee & Jones suggest that despite the changes that new technology and generations bring, the underlying shareholder push on profit and bureaucracy remain powerful. Organisations that strive to create an authentic organisation, that finds potential in people and processes, and dares to develop that potential at work should never underestimate the challenge this approach comes with.
Implement a Mentoring Program
Highly engaged employees are, on average, 50% more likely to exceed expectations than the least engaged workers. And companies with highly engaged people out perform organisations with the most disengaged folks. It's not all doom and gloom, with anything worth having, the hard work will pay off resulting in a culture that people want to be a part of, as it's the health of the organisational culture that high performers seek out.
Implementing Mentoring Programs are proven to improve engagement, productivity and improving the overall feeling of individuals being valued, heard and seen.
Contact The Mentoring Movement for a free demonstration - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sallina is the founder of The Mentoring Movement (TMM), which provides a cloud-based mentoring platform to empower organisations to manage mentoring relationships effectively and efficiently. Mentoring can transform organisations through empowering individuals to be fully in control and immersed in their career goals and aspirations through personalised, structured and result-oriented experiences.
TMM evolved from Sallina, identifying that organisations struggled to improve engagement and their overall culture; they find it challenging to execute and successfully manage and measure their mentoring programs; TMM provides a solution to this challenge and is a key tool to improve organisational cultures overall.
Sallina has over 20 years of industry and leadership experience, has studied business and leadership throughout her career, is extremely passionate about improving the daily work lives of individuals to drive change in the workplace and contribute to an overall positive social impact on the world.
Sallina is also studying at the Australian Institute of Business for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to ensure she is equipped to help others at the highest level.
(Goffee & Jones 2013)