Leadership in the workplace is not just about how you lead the organization. A critical error of many supervisors is thinking that it's all about themselves and how they lead. Now, more than ever, organizations face disruptions and increased competition. Supervisors need to make it a top priority to develop leaders from within the organization.
Leadership is about empowering all employees. Supervisors who empower and engage employees inject positivity into the workplace culture, which in turn increases productivity. Successful companies don't typically go out and recruit leaders. Instead, they grow them from within. As a supervisor, what skills and tools do you need to enable employee leadership in the workplace? Here are five things to consider:
1. While it's true that successful organizations grow leaders from within, finding the right people for your company starts with recruitment.
When interviewing potential candidates, envision them in your organization years from now, not just in the moment. Does the candidate have that potential? Is the person a good fit for your company culture? If not, why invest time and money only to have them go to a competitor or leave because they don't mesh? Does the candidate have the current skills needed? More importantly, does the person have the potential to help your company in the future? Are they excited about your products and services? Lastly, follow up on their references and make sure they are trustworthy and have integrity. Once you hire the right candidate, do all you can to retain them. Pay them a competitive salary and ensure you offer perks that resonate with them.
2. To retain highly-qualified potential new hires, you need to get to know them.
Learn as much as you can about their strengths and weaknesses and get to know them personally. What do they like to do outside of the office? What motivates them? If possible, spend some one-on-one time with them during a break. Ask them for feedback and opinions. Make sure to ask how they are doing. Investing time in your people is time well spent.
3. Proper training is the only way your employees will grow and become effective leaders.
Potential leaders need to develop the hard and soft skills required by those in leadership positions. As a supervisor, you can help them achieve that. Common training techniques such as formal education are great. You should also consider workshops, industry events, subscriptions, or videos. A variety of media will ensure that preferred methods of learning are taken into account. When it comes to hard skills, we all know that doing things can be more effective than reading or hearing something. Supervisors should be willing to hand off some of their responsibilities to employees so they can learn firsthand. You should guide them as they tackle new endeavors. You also need to allow your employees to fail. Failure is often the best teacher.
4. Mentoring is essential and rewarding in the workplace. It is one of the best ways to elevate your employees' careers.
Good supervisors should become influential mentors who guide and motivate employees along the way, not just for a brief period. Mentoring allows you to share knowledge with potential leaders. Mentors help employees set both short and long-term goals. Mentors also develop employees who can take some of the workloads from supervisors. Under proper mentorship, those employees will also become more flexible in the type of work they can tackle. An effective mentor is a person an employee can turn to in time of need. When an employee has ideas or needs to work through challenging tasks, a good mentor will be there to help. If you feel like you can't be a good mentor, think back to someone who helped mentor you. Ask yourself, 'How did they help me?' Talk to a respected colleague you feel is a good mentor and ask for their guidance.
5. A healthy employee is a productive employee. When your employees aren't working at 100%, your business suffers.
Health issues could be physical or mental. You must understand employees will not thrive without proper care. Whether sick, tired, or just burned out, employees need to know that someone cares and will help address their issues. Supervisors must encourage employees to prioritize health. Many organizations already have an employee wellness program. If your organization does not, it's a great initiative to explore. Wellness programs promote preventive care, highlight mental health, provide insight into healthy eating, and encourage more physical activity. Supervisors need to remember that employees are looking to them for direction, so be upfront and honest about your health and any struggles you are dealing with or have overcome.
Here are some other qualities that will help supervisors enable leaders in the workplace:
- Communicate effectively
- Foster involvement
- Show transparency
- Be authentic
- Possess self-awareness
- Become more approachable
As a supervisor, there are many things you can do to enable workplace leadership. While you don't have to exhibit each of the five qualities listed above immediately, you should take a measured approach and build on your leadership style over time. In the meantime, your employees can grow with you as you become a better role model. Good leaders inspire others to strive for excellence. As long as you work on yourself, you will also enable more leaders to step up in the workplace.
Ready to take the next step? Learn more about enabling employee leadership with AEU LEAD.
Our mission at AEU LEAD is to enable transformation. For those wanting to transform through the development of soft skills for supervisors and managers, we’re here to help. AEU LEAD strengthens organizations and empowers managers with leadership and safety training tailored to your business. Explore our services or talk with our team to learn more.
This article was originally published in the AEU LEAD blog on June 6, 2022.