Leader-employees gap: Why it matters, what can be done
More than half (55%) of leaders are disconnected from their teams’ perceptions - an alarming data point in the face of the demands that the new hybrid workplaces are set to make on their leaders, reveals a study by global research, leadership development, and consulting firm Potential Project.
The second of the six editions of The Human Leader study, a bi-annual examination of the key characteristics that define a new paradigm of human-centric leadership, has new insights on the nature of leader-employee relationships and they are disconcerting, to say the least.
The report titled 'Leaders are Alarmingly Out of Sync with Their Teams' delves into the significant role leaders play in driving employee satisfaction and the effect that indifference on their part can have on both employee and organisation health.
As millions resigned from their jobs due to burnout and dissatisfaction with their jobs last year, organisations questioned what was going wrong in their methodologies.
Potential Project’s research, thus, comes at a time when leaders and employees alike are shifting their priorities and rethinking the way they engage with each other.
Narrowing their hypotheses down to a deep desynchronisation between the two players, the firm sought to quantify the importance of being in sync. To do so, they asked both leaders and employees to rate leaders’ level of compassion, to discover some interesting results.
The importance of compassion
Compassion in leadership creates stronger connections between people, as it improves collaboration, raises levels of trust, and enhances loyalty. But, it is still not enough by itself.
When leaders marry compassion with the courage to be transparent and do hard things --what we call wisdom--amazing outcomes happen.
Job satisfaction improves by 86%, job engagement grows by 53%, and burnout improves by 64%, says the report.
Being in sync - the significance
Leadership is a relationship in which both sides need to feel understood and connected. When leaders and employees share a common understanding of how things are going, there is a greater meaning in the workplace, team commitment and higher performance.
The firm was able to create three main leader profiles – the Me Leader, the You Leader, the We Leader – out of which they found only one to deliver the best outcomes. Me Leaders overestimate how compassionate they are while the You Leaders underestimate themselves so. In both instances an imbalanced self-perception is developed, creating a warped understanding of what their leadership entails and engendering a deep disconnect with their employees.
The We Leader profile, on the other hand, strikes home. We leaders, the report reveals, lead to 11% higher job satisfaction, 10% higher organisational commitment, and 10% lower burnout in employees (relative to the Me Leader group).
The profile also has a significant impact on leaders themselves, where it leads to 15% lower burnout, 6% lower intent to quit, and 12% higher leadership efficacy (relative to the You Leader group).
Potential Project claims that both Me Leaders and You Leaders can get to the middle ground by respectively, practicing a taming of the ego, and embracing their inner critic and putting themselves first.
At the same time, all leaders can benefit from getting a shared reality check and responding to each moment by being present in it rather than by habit. These exercises, when practiced with genuine intention and care, can lay the groundwork for a human world of work, ready to counter any and all challenges of our future workplaces.
Leaders need to be much more honest when evaluating their strengths and intentional about checking in with their teams. When there is a shared and accurate understanding of the relationship, both sides experience positive outcomes, the report said.