Workplace leaders foster either teamwork or division

Ed Krey

Regardless of the size of the organization you work with or your title, leadership either creates exceptional teams or divides employees. As a leader, it’s up to you which legacy you leave behind.

Extraordinary leaders understand diversity in team members creates opportunities to succeed. Crucial business decisions come from collaboration with those with which you build trusting relationships. We have to ask ourselves: Do we really want “yes” people around us or do we want to tackle challenges with as much knowledge as possible? 

When leaders inspire others and work with them instead of dictating actions, they create a connection that involves more than just completing a project. They create a trusting bond. When leadership lacks empathy, integrity and engagement, employees no longer trust interactions with their bosses and might view their leadership style as aggressive and retaliatory. Turnover rates skyrocket and loyalty plummets. When organizations lack leadership that understands the intricate relationships between management and employees, bad things happen — lack of customer service, cutthroat cultures and businesses ceasing to exist. 

There’s a direct connection between employee engagement and positive customer ratings, profitability, productivity, lower turnover rates, safety, decreased absenteeism and increased quality. According to Gallup, work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10 percent on customer ratings,  21 percent on productivity and 22 percent on in profitability. Engaged employees exceed goals and work together in more impactful ways. 

When employees feel empowered and trust management, they develop new and creative ideas for innovation and quality improvement. No longer worried about reprimands, individuals speak up with concerns and challenge the status quo. When people (not just management) learn and implement conflict management techniques, meetings become more effective and efficient.  By controlling emotional intelligence, team members respect each other’s points of view and actively participate in discussions. Through these strengthened relationships inspired by positive leadership, processes improve and job satisfaction increases. When team members encourage others to participate, everyone wins and organizations grow.

When we think back to our past leaders, we reminisce about certain styles that inspired us or discouraged and divided us. Many exceptional leaders exhibit commonly shared characteristics, such as empathy, integrity and a contagious passion. Without self-motivating ambitions, these individuals take actions to better the organization by creating solutions developed through collaboration with their employees. They openly share a bit of themselves through personal stories and experiences, making them human in the eyes of their subordinates and connecting to their hearts and minds. By incorporating a motivational speech explaining the company’s vision, employees understand how they contribute to success through individual actions. It’s up to leaders to determine what will motivate each individual as they’re all different in their values, passions and personalities. For some, a straight-shooting style builds the perception of character and integrity. For others, inclusive and heartfelt praise inspires engagement. Whatever the approach, it must be sincere or the recipient will lose trust in the message and messenger.

In contrast, poor leadership lacks such qualities as addressing negative behaviors quickly, modeling positive behavior, exhibiting strong values and seeking synergy in teams. Employees understand when a leader’s objective is to inspire or a bosses’ plan is to dictate conformism. When management implements changes in processes without consulting with the employee performing the task, they exhibit a lack of consideration. Bypassing the individual actually performing the action sometimes causes more profound problems than the original issue. Further, it sends a message the boss doesn’t value the worker’s efforts and opinions. This type of leadership furthers mistrust and disengagement that breeds discontent and lowers loyalty.

Positive leadership brings together diverse opinions and personalities to face challenges in growing the business. Leadership affects more than just employees. When leaders truly care about others, it spills into customer service and community connections. The world becomes a better place.