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By Dave Goebel, Missouri Enterprise Service Delivery Team Lead

If you asked 100 people to define leadership, you’re likely to get 100 different responses. Leadership is one of those things that we think we understand but have difficulty putting into words. I define leadership as the ability to influence others to obtain support in accomplishing a defined task. Although this is a very short sentence to define a very complex concept, I believe that the key words here will provide great insight into how sound leadership will aid our employee recruitment and retention efforts.

First, let’s go to the end of the definition and consider “defined task.” It’s important to have goals in mind, otherwise, we can’t possibly know where we’re going. When an organization’s leadership team has well- conceived, defined goals that are accurately, concisely, and consistently communicated to all levels of the organization, everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the attainment of the goals. With more people involved in the generation of process improvement ideas, chances are that better ideas will be conceived and implemented. If you believe that most people would like to contribute to the betterment of the organization, you can easily see how this is a superior situation when compared to just a few people calling the shots. By letting everyone into the inner circle, you’ll create an environment that people want to be a part of.

Next, let’s consider “the ability to influence others.” Influencing others doesn’t mean that we simply give orders. This means that we rely on sound communication skills along with trust, motivation, discipline, coaching, mentoring, and accountability to make a case as to why our people should want to join in on our efforts. Leaders share not only the goals that the organization needs to accomplish, they also explain why the goals are important and what’s in it for the employee. This requires more thinking on the part of leadership prior to discussing the goals. If you consider the goals to be important, a little extra time planning your speech isn’t unreasonable. This too will help to create an environment that people want to be a part of.

Finally, let’s consider the last key word, “accomplishing.” Accomplishment is what most of us desire. We want to get ahead. We want to feel as though we’re part of an organization that’s going places. By allowing our people to understand the direction of the organization, to understand why that direction is important, to aid in the generation of ideas to get us there, and to benefit from the implementation of the ideas, we create a very desirable work environment. Imagine how this might appear to a bright candidate who is considering joining your company. Wouldn’t this be a great environment to describe? Wouldn’t this be attractive to most people that you’d want to join your organization?

Peter Drucker said that “Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.” Do you have managers or leaders in your firm? Do you have people who think deeply about their communication skills, who seek to develop trust with their reports, who are great motivators, who are disciplined, and take time to coach and mentor their people? Do they understand that their job is not to give orders but to develop their people and to facilitate their people’s success? Do you also have employee recruitment and retention issues? If those that are supposed to lead others aren’t leading, but managing, consider how this affects those that report to them. Consider how developing this type of environment will improve the working life of your employees to the extent that they stay around longer and influence potential employees to join as well. It is said that “people leave managers, not companies.” Don’t let your company get stuck in this rut. Develop capable leaders within your company and reap the benefits of a satisfied workforce.

Do you know where the leadership at your company stands? Is it healthy? Does it need some attention? Take our easy online leadership assessment and get a better understanding.