` How modern leadership can be one of the best benefits your organisation offers | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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22 Mar 2022
by David Danzig

How modern leadership can be one of the best benefits your organisation offers

For company culture to be positively influenced, senior leaders must become ‘modern leaders’, behaving in line with this philosophy. 

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A company’s culture governs how the organisation operates and what it really values. Culture is considerably more powerful than strategy and is dramatically influenced by leadership approach. In fact, leadership and company culture are intrinsically linked and if you turn a blind eye to poor leaders, they will eat into the organisational culture, damaging everything from employee wellbeing and inclusivity through to staff turnover. For company culture to be positively influenced, senior leaders must become ‘modern leaders’, behaving in line with this philosophy. 

Traditional Vs modern leadership
Traditional leadership in which leaders impose power and control over their staff and micromanage them daily, still exists. But, thankfully, this approach is dying, accelerated by the pandemic in which remote working forced some companies to rethink their leadership style. In fact, employees are now rejecting old-school leadership practices outright and leaders are having to adjust their mindset and adopt new behaviours to bring about more cohesive, collaborative, and productive teams. 

The case for modern leadership
Modern leaders are facilitators, coaches, encouragers and appreciators of great work whenever they see it, fuelling the behaviours and results they want to see repeated. Research shows that modern leaders improve organisation-wide results and behaviours, with a modern leadership approach improving the employee experience by 55%, engagement by 40% and wellbeing by 66%. The likelihood of layoffs is also reduced by 67%. Contrast this with the traditional ‘command and control’ type leadership model – the employee experience deteriorates by 43% and engagement by 33%.

Qualities of the modern leader
Adopting a modern leadership style requires the psyche around being ‘the boss’ and ‘in control’ turning on its head. Instead leaders must adopt the following qualities:

Be mentors and coaches
Modern leaders must mentor, coach and advocate for career development and growth rather than gatekeep and micromanage. As part of this, they must get to know their employees as individuals, understanding each person’s challenges and supporting them in overcoming them. By providing guidance and encouragement and then stepping out of the way, employees feel empowered and supported to make decisions and more connected to organisational success. 

‘Connect’ to purpose, accomplishment and one another
Modern leaders are ‘connectors’ – the conduit for bringing people closer to organisational purpose, their achievements and each other. Focusing on connection helps employees feel a strong sense of belonging and inclusion, ultimately strengthening workplace culture. OC Tanner’s Global Culture Report highlights that when leaders connect employees to purpose, accomplishment and one another, there is 10 times’ the odds of the company having a thriving culture.

To link to purpose, leaders need to consistently articulate how an individual’s work contributes to the bigger picture. By putting meaning into their work, employees will feel a stronger bond with the organisation and what it’s looking to achieve.

It’s also important to connect employees to their accomplishments and having a robust recognition programme is important here. Modern leaders frequently recognise efforts, accomplishments and career milestones in a timely, sincere and personalised manner, while encouraging a culture of appreciation in which leaders recognise individuals, individuals recognise leaders and colleagues recognise each other. By integrating recognition into everyday experiences, this builds a culture of motivation and success while strengthening workplace bonds.

In addition, modern leaders find ways to connect people together. Employees create strong connections with their team members when they value their relationships and spend time together, with research showing that when employees get to know each other, the likelihood that they’ll feel an above-average connection to their teammates increases by 42 times. This means that encouraging collaboration and social interactions between team mates is key. It’s equally as important to find ways to strengthen employee-leader relationships, with employees with modern leaders 22 times’ more likely to feel a strong connection to their leader.

Treat every employee as a leader
This is an important approach for nurturing a culture that believes everyone is equal and a potential leader. It encourages every employee to take ownership of their work, projects and sphere of influence, while allowing each individual to develop leadership skills. The organisations that are most successful at developing modern leaders don’t consider leadership to be a VIP club, but they identify and cultivate the potential in everyone. This sense of empowerment and opportunity drives an inclusive and thriving culture.

Your leaders must reflect the culture you want
How you nurture your leaders will determine what your future leadership team will look like. Leaders must be facilitators and not gatekeepers, focused on empowering others and not empowering themselves. As mentors, connectors and collaborators, modern leaders are the future, enabling corporate cultures and ultimately organisations to thrive into the next decade.

In partnership with O.C. Tanner

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