3 Qualities of Effective Leadership in the Modern Workplace
“Authoritarianism doesn’t work in the 21st century” says global business innovator
Throughout the twentieth century, authoritarianism was the most common (and seemingly most effective) form of workplace leadership. During this period, attrition was low. Careers were built on loyalty and longevity. Management could demand stringent structures and expectations in the workplace because most employees would comply, motivated by the fear of losing their place on the corporate ladder. But that formula doesn’t work in the modern day.
Gary Douglas is an internationally-recognized thought leader, business innovator and founder of wellness education organization, Access Consciousness®. In just 20 years, Gary built his business from a single-employee practice to a $20 million, multi-lingual, multi-brand enterprise with presence in 173 countries. He a firm advocate of ‘conscious leadership” and is keen for managers to understand the need for a less conventional, more cooperative form of leadership.
“The workforce today is not interested in being dictated to, giving absolute loyalty and working their way up to the top. They are empowered; restless; creative and clever. If you are a savvy business leader, you will recognize this and use it to your advantage” Douglas remarks.
According to Douglas, there are three key elements to being an effective leader in today’s environment:
- Be interested, not interesting.
Many managers believe the way to lead is to share what they know; to be the one who talks while others listen. “This approach may work well in an authoritarian environment, but today’s effective leaders are those who give fewer directives and ask more questions”, Douglas says. “Be interested in your staff. Ask for their views and opinions. Listen to what they have to say. Importantly, look for valuable ideas in their insights.”
- Encourage failure in your staff
According to Douglas, the most effective managers allow others to do things that they, themselves, may not choose – even if that looks like allowing a ‘mistake’ to occur. “Failure is just information. When an employee misses the mark, rather than looking at the result and judging it as wrong – a failure – get them to look at what they knownow that they didn’t know before.” Douglas explains. “Instead of trying to avoid perceived failure, use these opportunities to learn more. Ask, ‘What else is possible?’ or ‘What’s right about this I’m not getting?’. Mistakes always bring awareness, and awareness is priceless.”
- See beyond job titles
Douglas is adamant that the true value of a staff member often has nothing to do with the job they have been hired into. “The contribution an employee can make to your business often extends well beyond their daily job description”, he remarks. In his own organization, Douglas encourages his global staff to contribute in any way they can, and this often means working and cooperating across traditional job roles. “Just because someone isn’t working in a particular department, doesn’t mean they are unable to contribute to it. Your receptionist may be an excellent problem solver. Your accountant may have extraordinarily creative marketing ideas. An effective leader will recognize these assets, and draw upon them.”
Above all, Douglas maintains that effective modern leadership is about empowerment.
“Empower your employees to speak up. Empower them to contribute ideas. And, vitally, empower them to be honest about what it is they desire and what they would like their life and their career to look like, and then to choose it.”