About 40% of employees who leave their jobs say it’s because of leadership. Leaders didn’t invest in them or present opportunities for growth.
With rising recruitment costs and an ongoing talent war, those are expensive mistakes to make. Today’s leaders need to hit targets and deliver results, of course. But they also need to inspire and develop others.
Command and control-type leaders may have exceptional results in the short-term, but there will be signs that the kingdom is crumbling. Look for distress signals, such as high turnover rates, low employee engagement, poor customer service or quality scores.
Leadership should be transformational
High-impact teams accomplish more than high-performing individuals. When leaders inspire others to do their best work, their influence is transformational.
Bernard Bass developed the idea of transformational leadership decades ago – and it’s been proven over and again since. To be effective, Bass said, leaders need to be trusted and admired and they need to earn loyalty and respect. These emotions inspire employees to work harder and achieve more than they originally believed they could.
Characteristics of transformational leaders
When you’re recruiting and developing leaders, look for people who practice the “four Is” of transformational leadership. They should:
- Inspire others: Bass called this “idealized influence.” The net is, you want high-performance, purpose-driven role models at the helm. Someone who will lead by example.
- Motivate others: Leaders should have a clear vision and strong communication skills. They need the ability to cascade messages – and not just through top-down memos and mandates. They need to be inclusive and inviting.
- Stimulate innovation: Transformational leaders encourage critical thinking and problem-solving on their teams, instead of surrounding themselves with “yes men and women.”
- Consider individuals: You want empathetic leaders who care about people, not just performance. Someone who’s willing to invest in coaching and mentoring employees one-on-one, based on their personal strengths, weaknesses and aspirations.
How to activate transformational leadership
Transformational leadership is a skill that can be taught. It can also be embedded in companywide practices that encourage collaboration and dialogue. And like anything else, you can hold leaders accountable for their behaviors.
Invest in training and exercises that build empathy and increase emotional intelligence. When the organization is going through change, include transformational leadership techniques in your change management plans.
How Wipfli can help
Wipfli’s Prime Growth System is a proprietary operating system that helps companies achieve a state of prime so you can achieve elevated performance, increased efficiency and strengthen organizational health. Learn more about taking our free rapid assessment today.