When you’ve studied, taught and talked about leadership for 25 years, you might buy into the idea that there’s nothing new. Have you seen the news? Indeed the same people issues arise again and again. Change, innovation, conflict, engagement and motivation are repetitive topics that come up though often under new names. But there’s something different under way. To say there’s nothing new in leadership would simply not be true. Big corporations and small are making bold moves that will change us all. States are enacting laws that change the way we lead and of course technology is changing the face of everything we see. What does this mean for the leader, both emerging and established, and more important what does this mean you need to now do? Here are some suggestions.
Make Values Matter
Your organization may have a values statement posted on the wall, but does anyone pay attention to them at all? Those three days you spent in an off site to come up with the list of values that felt just right may have inspired leaders for a week or so, but now ask those same folks to recite them and wait for them to say I dunno. Yet, what’s new is companies with big names are showing their values matter more than tax breaks. Take Paypal’s recent announcement for their global headquarters in North Carolina. Everything was lining up just right to employ 400 North Carolinians when all of a sudden the issue of what they valued came into play. The deal got pulled because of a state’s ruling on transgender use of bathrooms. No matter your opinion on this issue, the fact of the matter is values used to only receive lip service. Now they are taking top billing and they matter to those you lead. Companies, senior executives, mid managers, and front line employees are making bottom line altering decisions based on their own values and beliefs. No longer can you afford to only act as if. It’s time to get clear on what you value and ensure you respect the values of those you lead.
Make Families Matter
One of our clients has begun a trend of including families in celebratory sales banquets and weekends. The CEO believes it is the right thing to do and others would line up in agreement, but recent legislation makes it officially a focal point. California passed a law on April 5th that allows for six weeks of paid parental leave meaning BOTH parents. We’ve gone from fighting for the rights of the woman giving birth, to some companies providing leave for women adopting, to progressive companies providing more time for the mom and some time for dad. However, now we’re facing the reality that families matter. Leading up to this brave new inclusive world, SHRM faced not long ago the issue of salaried employees being required to use their company phones outside of work hours, meaning while at home. Was this the precursor to employees saying don’t talk about balance, but let me experience it? If the message hadn’t gotten through then, states may now take those matters into their own hands. Your leadership role may now require you to not only know the names of your employees kids, but to allow them the time off to attend the soccer game of junior Jim.
Make People Matter
One could argue that people have mattered in leadership all the way through its modern day journey of development. From the industrial revolution age when realizing that observing employees from the cat walk of a factory changed the way they behaved, to the institution of formalizing the leader’s need to get up and actually walk around the office talking to team members (MBWA), to Google, Zappo’s, Amazon, and Apple making corporate offices that have rooms in which to literally play, we’ve come a long way. But have we truly embraced this new reality which is that no longer can companies or leaders afford to wish they were more people centric or had a people focused culture? One way in which leadership has changed is people now RUN the game. They are no longer the minions for which caring about them is something you try to remember to show on your face. Even leaders who are task focused and more about getting the right things done must sincerely focus on and care about the needs of the people they lead, or they’ll eventually be looking for new jobs.
What’s new in leadership? It’s simply really. All those things we’ve talked about doing, thought would be nice to do, and have been meaning to get done are rapidly becoming priority ONE. Just as company cultures take time to change so do the cultures and mindsets of people in a generation. The tides are changing. Those who were making many of the organizational, read leadership culture impacting, decisions, are continuing to retire, being replaced by those who are naturally more tech savvy and interested in people connections. This isn’t a generational issue, but a leadership issue and one that warrants you stop talking about what matters and get clear on what does, as well as show them how much.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!