Without realising, some senior leaders become so focused on the task in hand to grow their business, they become disconnected from the people around them and what it takes to lead those people through change.
Being in a senior position does not mean you are done. When you reach the peak of your career, you cannot just step back and let the people ‘stuff’ be done by someone else. Culturally, you have to stay at the top of your game, more so than ever. Embodying and living up to the values of your organisation every day is critical, no matter what you are facing or how stretched you may feel.
And the reason being...everyone is looking up to you for clues as to how to be, especially the younger employees who are just learning about role models in the workplace. Millennials make up 35% of the workforce and for them, culture is just as important as their reward package. Surveys show that 75% are primarily interested in the environment and how the culture enhances their opportunity for personal growth.
This is important to acknowledge, because since the pandemic it seems that all employees have new and higher expectations of leaders. There is a demand for genuine authenticity which in the past has sometimes been seen as a weakness to display.
Your employees watch how you act, they listen to what you say and how you say it. They look up to you to make decisions on how they should be at work, so if you don’t live up to the values, it makes them meaningless to them and confusion sets in. When there is disparity between how you want people to be and how you choose to operate yourself, they become disillusioned.
But, yes, there is an appreciation that your role is tough. Your team expects you to be dynamic and assertive to drive the business forward and at the most stressful points, they know you may not notice everything around you. But, in the moments that really matter, they expect you to be reflective, intuitive and respectful of the behavioural rules that you set for them.
Struggling to improve how you do that or even acknowledging that this is a need, puts you at risk of losing impact and trust. Loss of impact and trust weakens the power of an aligned workforce and any unwillingness to change can make you uninspiring.
So, it cannot be ignored. When your leadership style is contrary to the company’s guiding principles, it causes friction. If an employee doesn’t fit the values they are usually asked to leave. But what if that person is you, the leader?
In this situation there is no choice but to look at alternative perspectives. Spending time genuinely reviewing how you come across can be exceptionally enlightening. It keeps you grounded.
There is a general acceptance that learning how to model the behaviour you wish to see, whilst remaining strong as a leader can be a challenge. But, exploring these areas of your own performance will help you find the best actions and words to demonstrate daily that you believe in and live by what the company stands for. Just like you expect every employee to.
This is so important for leaders to consider, as despite what you think, values can be taught, but are manly caught! Act the way you want others to behave and they will follow.
According to a survey by Gallop, companies with high employee engagement record 21% better profitability and 89% higher customer satisfaction. So keeping your employees engaged with a consistent cultural way of doing things is not to be overlooked.
This is where coaching can be a best fit solution. A good coach has the skill and confidence to address your blind spots. They don’t judge or criticise . They are trained to develop people to grow professionally and personally. They work with each individual to find the best course of action for improvement. Senior Leaders need safe space too and coaching provides those much needed independent, impartial and confidential conversations.
Coaching will help to establish a common language that when used with your team, keeps your culture and mission front of mind. Developing your thought process about what’s important will show everyone that you are a conscious champion of the values and your conversations will be a constant reminder that everyone should be doing the same.
But if your ego is getting in the way, remember..... coaching isn’t about fixing something that is broken, it is about acknowledging the ways of working that create barriers to growth. De-risk your potential loss of impact and trust. It is braver to admit you need help and reach out to be coached, than it is to attempt to go it alone.