5 Ways to Be a Leader Your Employees Will Respect
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You just hired the perfect employee. His or her overall business acumen runs as deep as his or her functional knowledge. He or she leads with empathy, is an expert communicator and perfectly rounds out your already high-performing diverse workforce. Now, the goal is to empower your new hire to create his or her life's best work. To do this, you'll need to show inclusive leadership.
Inclusive leadership is your ongoing commitment throughout the employment lifecycle to create psychological safety. And given there's still a microscopic parasite floating around outside, providing psychological safety in the workplace should be an essential part of your business.
The sooner your new hire feels psychologically safe, the better. As soon as your employees know they're free to share opinions, express ideas and make mistakes, you'll unlock their greatest potential. Here are five ways you can show inclusive leadership.
1. Connect the work to your company mission
The vast majority of millennial and Gen Z workers want to attach their work to a mission that also contributes to the greater good of humanity. So if you're going to keep your new hire inspired, one of the best ways is to illustrate the why behind the work as often as possible.
Think of this as the recipe for a passionate employee. First, reiterate the problem in the world your company is solving. Next, make clear how its work directly impacts the solution. Finally, explain who the company and its work are impacting. This type of leadership is the rocket fuel that sets your employees up for success.
2. Be open to ideas
The worst ideas are the ones left unsaid. Your new hire might have several ideas that could potentially innovate processes within your company, and he or she might be able to give you a new perspective on existing initiatives. But until he or she feels psychologically safe enough to share those ideas, they will likely be left unspoken.
During your new hire's onboarding, make sure to highlight that you want to hear his or her thoughts and value his or her ideas. The best leaders I've known are always open to championing ideas because they understand that ideas drive innovation.
It's also part of a leader's job to facilitate ideas and turn thoughts into strategies. It's not rare for a seemingly bad idea to spark a good one. So allow the space for ideas and watch the innovation unfold.
3. Practice transparent communication
Transparent communication is the ability to have open, sincere and direct dialogue. But there's a fine line between transparency and rudeness.
Keep empathy at the top of your mind. When done right, transparent communication is one of the foundational practices to showing inclusive leadership, and your new hire will appreciate you for it.
It's important to remember that your words matter, especially when you're in a position of power. So assess how your employees react to your messaging and continually adjust language and tone as needed. Everybody has different communication preferences, so keep a close eye on what you say and how.
4. Provide flexibility and empathy
Flexibility is the model of the future. We all learned the importance of flexible workplace systems this past year, which will continue in our post-pandemic world.
Flexible schedules in hybrid or remote-work situations allow employees who are also caregivers the space in their day to ensure family comes first. Companies like Google and Facebook have already announced hybrid-style workplaces starting in the fall of 2021. Companies like Slack and Twitter say employees never need to return to the office.
Every employee's situation is different, so leaders must show empathy to each employee's unique challenges. Make checking in on mental health commonplace in weekly meetings and reiterate the importance of health and well-being within the organization.
5. Offer constructive feedback and positive reinforcement
Constructive feedback and positive reinforcement go a long way. Far too often, leaders share they don't like something, but don’t explain exactly why. This leaves employees feeling directionless and anxious. Constructive feedback focuses on tangible takeaways, and it begins with positive reinforcement.
Let's say your employee hands work in for feedback, but it's not quite up to standard. Start by sharing what you do like before going into what needs work. Positive reinforcement primes your employee to productively take in feedback. It also shows you support your employees and are willing to help them grow in their roles. Becoming proficient at constructive feedback is crucial and can accelerate the growth of not only your team, but also your organization.
Your overall goal should be to find ways to make everyone feel accepted. Go out of your way to show you value them as professionals and as people. Use this as a framework for your future hires and current employees. Your business's bottom line will thank you.