It’s well known that the behavior of the leader drives organizational climate. Employee engagement and team performance consequently follow. But, there’s an all-pervading economic lethargy thanks to the general stagnation and with companies going slow on investments. Despite that, competition is fierce. Customers are getting more demanding and people are baying for promotions and increments. Onions have overtaken the dollar!
India Inc is in purgatory! Yet, some companies still hold on to their best people, deliver on product promises and satisfy customers. How? What are they doing right? They are creating a high-performance organizational climate by focusing on leadership styles, which are based on the patterns of behavior leaders adopt across situations.
Without fancy terms, omitting the jargon, here are eight common-sense promises leaders can make to positively influence organizational climate (pin-up for maximum benefit!):
- I will not yell
Nobody likes being yelled at. Not your spouse, not your dog and definitely not your people. Yelling is demeaning, depressing and very annoying. Fiery leaders are low in emotional and spiritual intelligence and are just poor leaders. Shouting evokes fear and suppressed anger, causing stress and mental agony. Hey! Everybody makes mistakes, including leaders. So cut people some slack. Speak, don’t yell!
- I will give my people clear direction
Leaders must ensure that people are clear about what they need to do. People appreciate (reasonably) periodic reiteration of goals, deadlines, quality standards, along with the freedom and authority to deliver on them. They feel comfortable if they are on the right track, yet can make timely adjustments if they are not. Employees who know what is expected of them are better engaged and better performers.
- I will give my people space
Leaders often breathe down their people’s necks. Some do it in order to get the job done quickly, but most do it out of fear that someone will make a mistake. People hate it! First, it’s a tactless indication that the leader does not trust them. Second, it’s an insult to the capabilities they were hired for. Leaders need to allow their people to work unfettered by that irritating ‘so…where-are-we-now’ question. It’s easier to set up a culture where everyone agrees that if a deadline is at risk, then flags must be raised early enough. Leaders can then feel assured of delivery and people can get on with the job.
- I will communicate with my people
Communication, verbal, written and visual should increase in intensity and frequency according to the prevailing environment. Regular reiteration of the company’s values and vision statement works like auto-suggestion. Employees internalize messages they see and read every day and feel a sense of belonging. Effective communication eliminates unfounded fears and gossip to build a positive working environment. Silence isn’t always golden!
- I will reach out to my peers and linkages
‘Low-cost’ third party solutions now need to be replaced by ‘no-cost’ do-it-yourself ones. Cross-functional sharing is an extension of good communication. It improves alignment and the spirit of teamwork. Money-saving synergies and innovative solutions often emerge over a coffee conversation. Leaders must ‘cross the floor’ and encourage their people to do so too.
- I will stay focused
Okay, this is a tough one. Goals often change. Leaders must stay composed, communicate the changes in plan to their people and quickly. When in doubt, focus on the strategy, the mission and the vision. The answer always lies there.
- I will maintain the highest levels of integrity
Sorry, but the levels of integrity are shocking and appallingly low. Whether it is the owner of a certain high-profile airline or the home delivery guy bringing Saturday’s dinner, broken promises, unmet commitments and outright lies are everywhere! Effective leaders absolutely must be committed to honesty. This is non-negotiable! If performance is the aim, then integrity has to be its foundation.
- I will be just and fair
Justice and fair-play in the organization are a follow-through of prevailing integrity levels – whether in the hiring processes, appraisals, reward practices, or when interpreting policy. Leaders usually make decisions basis facts and circumstances. Sadly, sometimes personal considerations, preferences and pressure from peers, or ‘upstairs’, tend to influence these decisions. Poor people related judgments can seriously impact employee engagement. Just leaders are also usually high on emotional intelligence.
Promises, however simple, are not always easy to keep. There will always be challenges. But in today’s world, even an honest attempt is a good start. True, it may require leaders to break and whip a few eggs to make their omelet and employees may be dissatisfied.
But then, satisfied employees do not produce superlative results – engaged employees do!