The Balancing Act of Leadership
Leadership can be an ongoing balancing act. You need to think about what is best for your company/department and balance that with what is best for your employees. And, to complicate matters, many times this balancing act goes against everything that is taught to create loyal employees! So, as a leader how do you proceed?
There are times when you will have to say to your staff “I need you to do this task in this exact manner.” It might be because there is urgency in timing for completion of the project or because changes have happened that you were unable to plan for. If this is the only communication style that the staff is exposed to, it will be hard to create loyal employees. In order to build a culture of employee loyalty, you need to develop trust with the team, communicate often, and ask for the ideas or concerns from the team to improve the processes that they perform daily.
When faced with needing to make a directive request without asking for your team’s input, it doesn’t have to be the end of your efforts to build loyal employees if you:
- Have developed trust: if your employees trust you, they will understand that sometimes things are out of your control, even as the leader. The easiest way to develop trust is to be present and do what you say you will do. When you do find yourself in a situation that you must give the team a directive, the staff will follow your request if you have gained input from them on previous situations and you have shown integrity by doing exactly what you have said you will do. They will understand that this isn’t your normal communication operating mode.
- Frequently communicate: if you are truly developing a culture of loyal employees, you know communication can never happen enough. Again, if you normally communicate changes up front and include the staff in the details, they will understand when you occasionally need to make changes independently. One recommendation I have is to explain to the staff why you are needing to make the change without staff input. This will ease their concerns and stop them from filling the communication void with negative assumptions.
- Make sure you are working to keep a balance: As mentioned above, staff will follow your directives if they know this is outside of your normal operating mode. So, what should that normal operating mode look like? To the best of your ability, include your employees in decision when it comes to processes that impact their daily work. If they are doing the task, they are the experts at it – allow them to recommend how to improve the process. Not only does this help cultivate the next level of leadership but it also builds a loyal employee culture by demonstrating you value their opinions.
The next time you have a change to implement, determine if it is something that you must provide a directive on, or could you work with the team for suggestions to make the process better. The more often you can balance both, the more loyal your employees will be.