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Leadership is Enabling the Workplace: Best Practices and Approaches

by Margaret Bell | February 23, 2017

Take a look at a successful workplace; a working environment in which everything runs smoothly, resources are well managed and goals are systematically achieved. Then, look at another, similarly successful organisation; what common elements do you notice?

There may be many shared factors, but one which will crop up time and time again without fail is a high-quality of leadership. The simple truth is this; a business or other working environment cannot hit its targets without a solid leadership structure in place.

But what are the best practices and approaches for developing such a structure?

Developing Trust and Harmony

To foster an atmosphere of positivity and possibility in the workplace, we will see a distinct line of trust at the heart of the organisation.

Employees who trust one another, and who trust each level of management right to the top, achieve the best results. Managers and senior executives who can trust their employees will accomplish the same.

A strong level of trust – evident on an organisation-wide basis – can only be achieved through constant support. In 2014, the Towers Watson Global Workforce Study found that 30% of employees do not feel adequately supported by superiors. This means that 70% of organisations are getting employee support right, but it also shows that there is substantial room for improvement.

How to help your staff members develop? Be someone that they can rely on and bring their problems too; this is a great starting point on a personal level. From here, encourage this behaviour to be replicated among your employees and management personnel, and nurture a harmonious, supportive and trusting atmosphere.

Unifying, but Recognising Difference

For any leader in the workplace, there is a balancing act to be perfected. On the one hand, your staff members work best when unified as a whole and working together towards a common goal. Taking into consideration that all are individuals with diverse thoughts, feelings, cultural backgrounds and religious affiliations.

So, how can this diversity be celebrated and encouraged, without harming the unity of the workforce? Thinking about diversity and celebrating difference can become a norm. If your workplace is an environment in which employees feel that they cannot be true to themselves without jeopardising the unity of the team, then something needs to change.

Taking a zero tolerance approach to bullying and sexual harassment is a positive step towards this change. A report from Reuters in 2013 illustrated how Australia has some of the worst levels of workplace bullying on the planet, something which could be costing Australian firms up to $693m a year.

Great leadership is all about eradicating this and creating an atmosphere in which all are accepted.

Policing the Line Between Healthy and Unhealthy Competition

An important part of building the best atmosphere is understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition. Introducing a competitive element to business is a great way to incentivise employees and to drive progress towards key objectives, but it must be carefully managed.

Consider this, a report from the Safe Work Australia’s Australian Workplace Barometer project – or AWB – found that 20% of employees said they had been humiliated in front of others at work. Meanwhile, 42% of male employees reported that they had been sworn at or scolded harshly in the workplace. These are the potential effects of unhealthy competition.

If leadership is to be effective, those leaders must understand their employees, working closely with them and policing the fine line between healthy and unhealthy competition. Make your workplace a shining example of this.

Positivity at Every Step

Effective leadership is always positive. Even when strength and discipline are required, it must be delivered in a manner which enables positive outcomes and results.

By leading in an enabling way, we provide the framework and the inspiration for a more widespread culture of positivity within the workplace. A ‘can do’ attitude is always better than a prohibitive one.

A successful work place is filled with people who feel good about themselves.

Implement this within your own workplace, and witness first-hand the sort of benefit such a level of positive leadership can provide.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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