How to be a leader people want to work for

I was completing a reference check earlier in the week with a direct report/employee of a candidate we have short-listed for a leadership role. It’s a fairly senior position within the organisation so we were completing 360-degree reference checks.

At the end of the reference check the team member said something that really summed up how he felt about this Manager. He said, “you get Manager’s that are good and some that are not so good and when they move on you don’t give it too much thought, but with *Fred, he’s someone I would definitely want to work with and report to again”. Is that not the pinnacle of good leadership??!!

When I looked over the reference I had taken, it was clear that he felt inspired by his Manager and had great respect for him.  He spoke about how he had been provided with learning opportunities and was encouraged to provide his Manager with feedback.  He mentioned that they had built a close working relationship over the years.

Whilst I’m no leadership expert, I talk to candidates every day about what they love about their past and current Manager’s leadership style as well as the not-so-great experiences they’ve had.

Want to know what you need to do to create a loyal following? Read on!

Communicate openly and honestly. No real surprises here but this is more than just talking with your staff regarding day to day activities. This is about being transparent, involving staff in decision making, keeping them in the loop on company decisions and changes and getting them involved in the business as a whole, as opposed to purely communicating with them on issues that only affect their area or department.

Provide learning and development opportunities. When we ask candidates to highlight a key achievement from a previous role or just something that they’re particularly proud of, nine times out of ten they tell us about a project they were involved in.

Most people love having a sense of responsibility and taking ownership of something, so getting your team members involved in a side project can be a great way of getting them engaged with the wider business and allowing them to feel a sense of achievement outside of their day to day duties. A leader who encourages their team to put their hand up for projects also sends a message to their team that they have confidence in their skills and abilities.

Build a connection with your team members. Now I’m not saying that you have to be best mates with your staff but having a positive relationship with each of your team members helps to build trust, respect and engagement. Genuinely listening to your team and engaging with them one on one to find out their goals and what motivates them etc can make your life a whole lot easier too!

One thing that’s unanimous when we talk to candidates about what they’re looking for in a new role is a good, positive work environment where they can have a laugh at times. By leading with a bit of light-heartedness and a sense of humour, people get to see the real ‘you’ and not just the ‘Manager you’. There’s also research that shows leaders with humour build stronger, more resilient cultures and recover from times of stress and change more quickly.

Lead with humanity. A good leader is considerate of others, provides support to their team and leads by example. They have the confidence and faith in their team to delegate tasks and they motivate, encourage and know how to get the best from their people. By demonstrating empathy, principle-based decision making and leading with humanity you win the trust and respect of your team and make them feel valued.

Now who wouldn’t want to report to this sort of leader??!!

Thanks for reading!