May 16, 2018 by Kari Viglasky

Modern leadership qualities you need to succeed

There’s a war for talent all over the world. Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring, and we have a severe labour shortage in Canada. As a result, the new generation of younger employees is becoming more and more empowered. They can decide where they work, when they work, how long they work, what they wear to work and how much you pay them to work. If leaders are inflexible and insist their employees remain chained to their desks from 8 to 5, they are likely to encounter problems, as these employees can find better opportunities elsewhere – or they can create their own. They will make up 75% of our workforce in under 10 years, 91% are expected to stay in a job for less than three years and 79% already consider leaving their jobs to work for themselves.

With companies competing against each other for the brightest and best, only the businesses with talented leaders who are engaged, empathetic, humble, flexible, accommodating and willing to give autonomy to their employees have the potential to attract – and, more importantly, retain – talent. Prioritizing integrity, trust, truthfulness and a belief in your staff will inspire them to deliver. If you tell them what they need to do and leave them alone to do it, they will exceed your expectations. But that’s not all you can do. With that in mind, here are five ways to provide the kind of leadership modern employees need.

1. Be empathetic

More than anything, today’s leaders needs to be empathetic. It’s a new world out there, one full of workers who expect employers to understand and accommodate their needs. Increasingly, people are engaged in flexible work arrangements that include working at home or remotely, job sharing, flextime, retirement transition and numerous other types of leave. With all these innovative approaches to employment available, businesses are also discovering some unanticipated advantages. The evidence is clear: when you empower and trust your employees to do work on terms that work for them, you can radically increase your profits.

2. Be humble

Avoiding the temptation to micromanage can be difficult, but the modern world demands leaders demonstrate one trait above all others: humility. Leadership needs to be humble. The days of people fueled by ego dictating instructions to their colleagues are over. Leaders who recognize everyone else’s value, take it into consideration, respect their opinions and admit when they make mistakes – without feeling threatened – are the way of the future. If you consider major leadership studies, the most successful leaders in the world are the ones who are humble. The most comprehensive international study on this subject was published in Harvard Business Review in 2001! Why do we still not get it?

3. Resolve conflict

When it comes to conflict, your primary obligation is to ensure you don’t start it in the first place. You have to be open and listen to dissenting perspectives, in order to prevent disagreements from escalating and becoming full-blown conflicts. This also reinforces an open-door policy. Make your employees feel comfortable bringing unfamiliar or unpopular views to the table without worrying about being ostracized or humiliated. It’s just like a family dinner. If you can’t sit down at the table, establish mutual respect and work things out, you will eventually find yourself trapped in a state of conflict – or sitting alone at the table.

4. Motivate and develop talent

There are several reliable ways to develop your employees’ talent: engage them, motivate them and include them in strategic planning. Don’t treat them like students or like they’re subservient in any way because they’re not. Today’s employees come out of school with innovative ideas. They are tech savvy, brilliant and have emotional intelligence to spare. If you sit them at a desk and throw files at them, you will fail to motivate them and waste one of your most precious resources. This approach neither engages them, nor encourages them to move the company forward. With so many other great organizations out there, leadership needs to keep up with today’s standards or risk falling behind and being put out of business.

5. Have fierce resolve and iron will

In order to be successful in this new world, you need fierce resolve and passion – for your business, employees, clients and clients’ performance. In the world of accounting, it’s not enough to sit at a desk with an adding machine, working on taxes and audits. You need to be a passionate business partner. If a client is making a decision about anything (related to money and people), you should be sitting at their table; whether it’s their office desk, board room table, lunch table or dinner table. If you have an iron will regarding their success and how you can help, you will be invited to their table on all occasions. If you do not have fierce resolve regarding their success, they will easily find someone else who does!