When I talk to CEOs today, they tell me that revenue growth in itself is no longer enough for them and their leadership team. It’s now about profitable growth. Which means not just grant the top line but also reducing operating costs, the bottom line.
Creating a competitive business structure
Charles Handy, one of my favourite futurers, tells a story about a conversation he had with the chairman of a large pharmaceutical company who stands up his formula for remaining viable and competitive as this: A half, times two, times three, equals P. And, if you’re trying to work out what that means, here it is: It’s half as many people in the core of the business in five years, being paid twice as well, and reducing three times as much, equals P (Productivity Profit). That is the basis of competitiveness.
So we, as leaders, are attempting to drain out more with less. Add to this the fact that we are working in an environment of decreasing trust, decreasing engagement, and scarcity of talent. It’s a bit like rebuilding a plane while trying to still arrive safely at your destination, and on time. So, we have to rethink leadership.
Using leadership skills to increase staff productivity
At the end of the day, the greatest leaders will get there by accessing the discretionary effort of their people. Managers & leaders do this by connecting authentically with the hearts and minds of their people and stakeholders in order to motivate and inspire them. This process starts with identifying the strengths of employees in order to help them reach their full potential.
Identify your team’s strengths.
Employees need to know their strengths and understand that those strengths are also recognized by managers, but the answer to that isn’t always in a performance evaluation.
Effective leaders can actively engage with their team members to not only discover their strengths but also reinforce them. Being present in every interaction, slowing down and taking notice of what employees say and do can reveal much more than formal settings and evaluations. Low-pressure environments such as lunch breaks, or after work activities can be a great way to discover team members’ key strengths as well as receive feedback that might not always be given in more structured settings.
Empower your team to use those strengths.
Understanding employees’ strengths is only half the battle towards unlocking a company’s potential for increased productivity.
Once a leader has identified their team’s strengths the next stage is to empower those strengths & demonstrate through action that they were indeed present in those low-pressure interactions with employees. In addition to playing to employees’ strengths, this will also boost morale as employees realize that their voices have been heard.
Organizing teams according to core strengths
Once empowerment has been achieved on an individual level, the next stage is to manage it on a group level.
By leading by example in discovering employees’ strengths, managers can motivate their teams to do the same with their coworkers when working together. This, coupled with bringing together workers that hold different, but complementary skills, creates stronger, more complete teams capable of achieving more. These new groups can then be assigned tasks that match their strengths, these tasks will then be completed faster and to a higher standard.
Keep the process going
Sustaining a competitive business is a question of constant progression. It’s not enough to run through the process once and leave things as they are. Stagnation can lead to reduced morale & decreased productivity. In order to avoid stagnation & demotivation, make these steps of continuous engagement in order to not only keep staff motivated but also to keep up to date on how to reward them for their efforts.
By engaging employees from start to finish, leaders can not only increase productivity, but they can also increase the longevity of that productivity by keeping employees motivated, but it all starts with authentically connecting with employees and leading actively not passively.
Talk to us about how building leadership presence in your company will shift the needle on engagement, trust, and, ultimately, profitable growth. And, isn’t that what is all about in the game of business?