The world has changed, and employees expect a new type of leader.
In the past, business owners could be quite dictatorial with employees. There was little competition, and longevity with a company was critical for your resume. Employees were expendable, and if they didn't like how things were done, they could be replaced.
However, this type of leadership is no longer effective in today's business world, where competition is fierce, and employees are more knowledgeable, transferrable, and experienced. Employees can quickly work for a competitor or switch to an alternate role if they don't like how their boss runs things.
And as we know from a Gallup study, up to 50% of people leave their job because of their boss.
Simply put, there is no longer room for dictators at the helm of a growing company.
So what is the new type of leader, and what do employees want? And what is it that separates the Leaders from the Dictators?
1. They're trusted, and the respect is Mutual.
For a leader to be truly effective, they must have some level of trust from their employees. When employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to respect them and follow what they say because the leader doesn't appear corrupt.
However, respect develops over time due to continual positive actions and reinforcement; it's undoubtedly not developed through fear. Instead, fear-based leadership builds resentment and drives inefficiency.
A leader, their employees' respect, will have higher levels of engagement and productivity.
2. They're in the Trenches.
Look at the best military leaders of all time. When it came time for their troops to face a challenge, they were in the trenches with them, showing them it could be done and not to be afraid.
They weren't sitting behind a desk issuing orders; they were with their troops. They didn't expect their troops to have a tough job while sitting in a cushy office chair.
Great leaders roll up their sleeves and roll out to the front line. It motivates their team and gives the leader a clear understanding of the realities of the market.
3. Great Leaders Ask and Listen.
Leaders consult with and listen to their employees. They do not bark orders. Leaders ask many questions, pose problems and ask employees to troubleshoot to find solutions.
More importantly, leaders ask them to help suggest ideas. As a result, employees feel engaged, valued, and more inclined to follow the leader.
4. They Understand That Attitude is Everything.
A leader with a positive attitude that is passionate about the company's success will motivate and inspire their employees.
They will be trusted and respected and seen as role models that other employees will want to emulate.
5. They're The Right Fit for the Role.
Great leaders must have many qualities, but a handful makes them different from dictators or poor leaders.
Ideally, they should possess these leadership qualities before being given the job of a leader. But unfortunately, this cannot be taught in regular training programs because it's about character rather than business experience.
The only way someone can truly learn what makes a good vs lousy leader is by working under both types of leaders.
6. High Performing Leaders Don't Terrify... They Motivate!
Leaders offer calm but firm counsel as well as training and support. Ruling through fear achieves nothing other than intimidation and employee discontent. Micromanaging and threat leadership are things of the past, and so will the people using them.
Leaders understand that their employees are rational people and treat them as such. When an emergency does happen, employees want to know what they can do to help instead of feeling terrified.
7. They Support Transparency and Accountability.
Employees need to trust their leaders for a company to be successful. Leaders must be transparent with their employees, telling them the truth even if it is difficult to hear.
They must also be willing to be held accountable for their actions and decisions. Employees who feel like they can't trust their leaders or are unaccountable will not be productive.
8. Followers Are Not Sheep!
Great leaders don't see their employees as mindless robots that will follow any order without questioning it. They recognise that followers are intelligent individuals with their thoughts and feelings.
Leaders encourage employees to give their opinions and contribute to the decision-making process. Employees who feel like they are part of the team and their voice matters are more likely to be productive and engaged.
9. Leaders That Are Kind Get Things Done.
Employees give up most of their waking time for you. Showing you appreciate this by caring about them personally goes a long way to creating loyalty. The small things matter more than big gestures. Remember their birthday, ask them about personal interests, and drop them a phone call when they get home from a medical procedure to ask how they are.
Your team will not forget the kindness you have shown; as a leader, you have a moral obligation to help and support your team.
Are you a Leader or a Dictator? Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell the difference.
Good leaders are often mistaken for dictators because they demand excellence and have a clear vision for the future. However, there is a big difference between the two. Leaders care about their teams and are looking for ways to motivate them. At the same time, dictators are only concerned with having absolute power.
Great leaders will constantly challenge themselves to review their leadership style. As a result, you and your employees will be happier, and your business results will shine.
And if you want to know if you're a Leader or a Dictator, try setting up a safe, anonymous, 360 feedback system for staff to provide feedback.
Head of Marketing and Growth at RosterElf, makers of the best Online Rostering Software.