The crucial opportunities to inspire greater performance and higher potential in our people in 2023 have everything to do with how leaders communicate and how they invest in training their future leaders.
In case there are still a few people in leadership positions who have not heard this message loud and clear yet: “It’s not about you. No one cares about your title, your position, your salary, or your designated parking spot. The people on your team and your peers evaluate your performance (and you as a person) by how you make them feel.” Effective leadership in 2023 and beyond will be rooted in empathy. More pointedly, if you want to be an effective leader, you must genuinely care for others and demonstrate the ability to listen to them.
Meetings don’t drive organizations; people do. Spreadsheets don’t inspire hard work and late nights; people do. Businesses are not logos, products, and bottom lines; those are the byproducts of focused, talented, and committed people who choose to work for a common purpose. Leaders who work hard to improve their own empathy (and teach others to do the same) will amplify the most valuable resource in their organizations: their people. It’s about choice. If your talented people are staying on your team, they are choosing you. If your talented people are leaving your team, find a mirror.
I can hear it now: “These Generation Z kids just don’t want to work. They want it all up front; they need to put their time in just like we did. These new hires spend all their time staring at their phones–when do they ever do any work?”
The leading edge of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) is already in the workplace. By 2025, they will account for 27% of the workforce. Two choices exist for those of us who predate Gen Z: whine about them and watch them take their talent and energy somewhere else, or empower them, transfer knowledge to them, and watch them energize and transform our businesses.
Trust works both ways. Get to know your Gen Z teammates. Understand their goals and how they define personal and professional success over the next year and five years from now. Ask them what they care about and how you can support them in finding fulfillment professionally and personally. Share your knowledge with them, share your habits and routines for success, and make it personal. It’s still about choice. Help all your teammates to feel known (recognized for their achievements), to feel relevant (doing work that matters), and to feel that their work is valued (measured and tied to future success).
The Increasing Need for Developing Leaders
The pace of work and constant pressures of a rapidly changing world will likely never go back to “what was.” Instead, leaders will increasingly need to be comfortable with the conditions of change and be able to thrive in such circumstances. Assuming people will make the best business decisions they can with the information available to them, experience is a key differentiator. We can either be patient while people gain repetitions in decision-making and management skills, or we can train them and fast-forward their growth. Organizations that recognize the importance of deliberately training their leaders will create organizational resiliency and be better postured to thrive in whatever 2023 throws at us.
Challenge: Invest in and train your leaders. Consider the return on investment on fast-forwarding the capability of your leaders to communicate effectively, delegate efficiently, and use productive conflict to derive the best solutions quickly. If you’re still not sure, perhaps your competitors will share their data on how they are attracting your best talent.