Three Tactics to Cultivate a Culture of Leadership

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Some people are born to lead, while others are trained to do so. In an office setting, both types of leadership are crucial, as they drive company success and rally colleagues to promote productivity and positivity on the job. Leaders in training are typically taught what’s best for the company and its employees by reviewing traditional leadership strategies that have previously benefited their organization. But as the workplace continues to shift with continuing and emerging employment trends, conventional leadership cycles may no longer cut it. Business leaders need to take a step back and take time to determine how tomorrow’s leaders can be formed on the job.

Today, fostering an environment for upcoming leaders has never been more critical. The past few years have been very alienating for many members of the workforce and having strong leadership is an important step to bringing everyone back together. Although taking the initiative to lead is never easy, being a leader has grown particularly challenging recently due to high turnover rates, a rollercoaster of a job market, the addition of Gen Z employees to the workforce and the surge of hybrid work environments. However, encouraging more employees to take a leadership role is worthwhile and necessary for any growing organization.

While there are many ways to develop young talent, there are three tactics current leaders need to focus on to propel future leaders’ success: promoting workplace flexibility, professional development and a goal-driven culture. Let’s look at how properly implementing these tactics can encourage the company’s young talent to become full-fledged leaders.

Supporting Workplace Flexibility

Before the pandemic, many jobs were based in the office eight hours a day, five days a week, Monday through Friday. When offices closed, employees had to find a place in their homes to work. Post-lockdown, employees who loved working from home as well as those who longed for a traditional office setting, agreed that the standard 9 to 5 was no longer cutting it.

Leaders must promote a better balance between work and life to propel themselves ahead of other companies. Many organizations have taken a step in the right direction by incorporating a hybrid office space where employees are encouraged to work two or three days a week but have the ability to choose what days work best for them. Empowering employees with flexibility in their work hours can boost productivity, loyalty and a better work-life balance.

Before making significant office hours changes, leaders must research which schedule will benefit their organization and employees most. Once a plan is agreed upon, business leaders must lay out clear parameters for the office schedule. For example, some offices may require that employees log eight hours of work within a certain time frame. Or, leadership may dictate that employees must be in the office two days a week, with a specific day designated as an all-staff attendance day. Making sure these expectations are clear to employees will cause fewer headaches in the future.

Workplace flexibility improves the working environment in many ways. Beyond enhanced productivity and employee satisfaction, successfully transitioning to a hybrid working arrangement demonstrates a culture of care from leadership. Once a flexible workspace has been established and begins to operate smoothly, employees who were a part of the transition or came after will have a better idea of what they want from leadership. While being a leader is not for everyone, people who have been around flexible working arrangements will have a better understanding for what needs to be done to keep employees who have a flexible schedule engaged and happy.

Focusing on Professional Development

As young millennials and Gen Zers enter the workforce, now and in the coming years, they will search for leaders who will invest time to demonstrate how to improve their company and provide mentorship. Many Gen Zers and younger millennial employees will request more opportunities to hone their skills and grow into leadership positions.

To promote an easy transition from an entry-level employee to a manager role, current leaders should immediately start connecting with new hires and provide mentorship opportunities where possible. While it would be easy for an HR department to assign mentors, current leaders openly sharing their knowledge and skills can cultivate trust amongst their team naturally. These valuable skills will teach newer employees, set the entire organization up for success and may even help with retention.

Fostering a Goal-Driven Culture

Every generation is different, but one fact withstands the test of time: when leadership shows commitment to employees, loyalty will follow. To younger generations, a job is much more than a paycheck every other week. A career comes with the opportunity to pursue passions and improve their personal environment. Leaders must consistently provide new growth opportunities.

Workplace committees are a powerful method to drive workplace improvement. Committees foster social connections with colleagues and help young professionals gain the confidence and skills necessary to pursue higher leadership positions.

HR and executive leadership can also work together to contribute to goal-oriented work culture. For example, by encouraging young employees to assist in — or even lead — company initiatives, an organization’s leadership can immediately cultivate a culture where all employees feel like valuable contributors to the organizational mission. When done right, these initiatives will lead to a more passionate workforce who strive to become future company leaders.

Once these initiatives are in place, they must be maintained. Business leaders must allow employees the flexibility to choose what is best for them while supporting their future goals and trusting them with key job responsibilities. To do so, current leaders will need to allow for more workplace flexibility, whether that’s working from home a couple of days a week or having flexible hours during the workday. It’s also crucial that business leaders focus on developing new hires and shaping them into leadership material. These tactics will start to create a culture of leadership that is more prevalent in today’s society and will foster a supportive environment for upcoming leaders to excel in the years to come.

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