Tips from "the Corporate Fixer": Welcome to the Future of Leadership
With a long history of experience in Human Resources, I’ve had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about Corporate America and corporate culture. One thing is for sure, many of the things that were seen as wonderful and amazing 20 years ago are seen as not so great and sometimes even harmful now. Here are a few tips to help you move your leadership into this century so that you are an amazing leader by today’s standards.
Tip 1: Cultivate an Inclusive Environment Before Chasing Diversity
Increasing diversity is one of the hottest topics. While I agree that diverse teams are the best teams, I also want to stress that a diverse team without inclusion, is a very bad team. Companies sometimes focus on the wrong piece first. Work on creating inclusive teams first and be sure to foster psychological safety. When you have a trusting, inclusive team, then you can introduce diversity into the mix. That way, when there is a different idea or suggestion, the team will be receptive to it. Without inclusion, you can’t take advantage of the diversity of the team.
Tip 2: Lead Without Leashes
Remote work shone a light on the problem of companies counting hours rather than measuring results, as shown by the dramatic increase in employee monitoring software up from about 60% in 2021 to 90% in 2023. Software monitoring companies all have stats on how much productivity increases when people know they are being watched. What they don’t have is the data on how much feelings of distrust impact morale. To get the best of both worlds, you don’t have to spy on your employees and keep them on a leash. You just need to give them guidance (the what, they why, and by when), set clear expectations, and measure their results.
Tip 3: Find Advocacy in HR
Let HR help you become the best leader that you can be. The role of Human Resources has shifted, we are no longer company men and compliance cops. The HR professional that you work with should be a strategic partner, able to help you navigate through the myriad people challenges that you are facing on your team. Let them help you reach your business goals while giving your employees the best employee experience possible.
Tip 4: Coach, Don’t Micromanage
Adopting a coaching mindset, as opposed to micromanaging, will help you develop a resilient and self-driven team. Everyone thinks they are coaching but remember, coaching is asking, not telling. When someone on your team asks what they should do, try simply asking “What do you think your next step should be?”. Coaching helps people develop a sense of responsibility, self-worth, and autonomy while establishing a pattern of using critical thinking skills. If you give someone the answer, they will always go to for the answer. If you help them find the answer within themselves, you have given yourself time to work on things that add more value to the organization.
Tip 5: Embrace the Human Element
At the end of the day, you are leading a team of people, and each individual has their own personality, communication style, likes and dislikes. When it comes to employee engagement, that’s deeply personal for some people. One person may enjoy public praise but that may embarrass someone else on your team. Someone may love a cash bonus whereas someone else would really enjoy an extra day off. Get to know your team as humans, learn what makes them tick, and motivate them appropriately.
These aren’t earth-shattering tips, but for many, they are not part of their current leadership toolkit. Dust off the old tools, hold on to the ones that still work and get rid of the dull, useless tools from yesteryear. For a more engaged and motivated team, use these practices in your organization and help transform your corporate culture.