Everyone has been inspired by a great leader at some point in their lives. It could be a teacher, coach, supervisor, or a historical figure like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. What do effective leaders like these have in common? They develop a unique management style that is consistent, respectful and inspiring.
In business, positive company culture and effective leadership are desired not only for optimal performance, but also for the bottom line. The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 from Development Dimensions International shows that in key metrics like financial performance, organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their industry competitors. In addition, organizations with higher quality leadership had higher employee retention and engagement rates (up to three times that of their competitors). Finally, the study shows that organizations that have a formal mentoring culture have 20% lower turnover and 46% higher leader quality, and can fill 23% more roles immediately. It’s important for those who currently hold leadership roles, as well as those who aspire to become effective leaders, to understand the importance of developing a unique management style that encourages employee engagement and contributes to a positive company culture. Graduates of Villanova University’s Master of Business Administration online program are well versed in various management styles and know how to utilize their advanced managerial skills to help companies thrive. Those wishing to join the ranks of today’s progressive-thinking business leaders would do well to embrace the following insights and advice.
Benefits of Effective Leadership
Beyond ensuring that employees complete their work or that strategic goals are met and achieved, effective leaders understand that their managerial style can deliver extensive benefits to their team members and the larger organization.
Operations and profitability
Company profits and losses can be influenced by many factors, including the leadership acumen of those in charge. Leaders should not take all the credit for a sudden turnaround in profitability, nor should they shoulder all the blame of an unexpected downturn. Having said that, effective leadership is known to impact some of the key factors that drive profitability.
Writing for HuffPost, Arpan Roy discusses how strong leadership can have a positive impact on productivity, people and processes. Leaders can encourage employees to reach for their highest levels, help reduce inefficiency within current processes, and generate new interest from clients. Employees who are motivated often produce better work, more efficient processes can help save money, and increased business can help drive more revenue.
“Businesses regardless of their size or scale of operations can appreciate the impact that strong and effective leadership can have on their profits,” Roy states. “It is not surprising that the high performers in any industry look at leadership development as an investment that is ongoing and nonnegotiable.”
Employee morale and performance
Some leaders may only view or evaluate employees based on their efficiency. But effective and capable leaders understand that their leadership style can help raise employee morale and improve performance. Entrepreneur guest writer Shawn Doyle lists techniques for boosting employee morale, including giving out small rewards, allowing opportunities for career growth and providing positive feedback.
“When a team member has earned praise, think about ways to thank that person publicly. You can acknowledge his or her efforts at a team or company meeting,” Doyle writes. “You can send an email out to everyone describing what this employee accomplished and give a public ‘thank you.’ The point is to be public about it.”
Leaders who don’t provide positive feedback or opportunities for their employees to grow may find their team performing poorly and the company not reaching its full potential. Ineffective leadership can stifle growth opportunities for employees with poor communication and lack of direction, causing low morale and high turnover. But leaders who do actively engage with their employees, reward strong performance, provide feedback and areas for improvement, and acknowledge the efforts of all individuals create a strong company culture.
Industry respect and honors
A leader is often the face of a company. Any landmark successes may be immediately associated with an organization’s top leader. Similarly, any notable company gaffes or mistakes that occur may cause the leader to come forward to comment on remedies or organizational changes. Successes or mistakes do not define a good leader, but how that individual responds to those mistakes might. Writing for Inc., Lolly Daskal notes how strong leaders know how to acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them, teach others and move on. “What are you modeling to those around you when you make a mistake?” Daskal writes. “Your team will be watching, and what they see will affect their relationship with you and the level of trust they hold for you, so it’s important to get it right.”
Developing a Welcoming Company Culture
Leaders may be the face of a company, but a company’s culture is ultimately what defines it as an organization. A strong company culture requires careful planning and vision to bring it to life. Here are leadership tips that can help define and foster company culture.
Defining a brand’s key values
Is your company one that values honesty and integrity? Are you dedicated to reducing pollution and only using renewable materials in producing your product? Are you open and transparent with consumers about how prices are determined or how employees are selected and treated? Do you want to create the impression that your organization or product is exclusive or premier? Identifying these values is a fundamental stage in the development of a company’s culture. Each company is different, so one company may benefit from emphasizing its honesty and integrity, while another may thrive from billing itself as exclusive or an invite-only product. “By identifying your company’s core values, you can better define your culture — your greater mission and reason(s) for existing as a company, beyond the tangible products or services you offer,” Vivian Maza writes for Forbes.
Creating and abiding by standards and codes of conduct
Negative issues can occur at organizations that don’t establish standards and codes of conduct. For example, a company may not include diversity and cultural awareness training as part of its new employee onboarding. That company may face conflicts from employees who make insensitive remarks because that negative behavior wasn’t addressed by a standard or code of conduct. “A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. The code articulates the values the organization wishes to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behavior,” according to the Ethics & Compliance Initiative.
Distinguishing a company from the competition
Does your company make the most affordable product for consumers? Is your company more accepting or aware of larger social issues than your competitors? Is your company more relaxed, casual and personable in communication with customers? Do you offer your employees certain perks or benefits that would be viewed as especially valuable? All these things can help differentiate a company among its competitors and raise awareness in the eyes of employees, consumers and the public. It begins by building a more vibrant and identifiable company culture.
Crafting an Effective Management Style
The benefits of strong leadership and company culture are clear, but leaders must develop and refine their own leadership style to make a true impact. Many different leadership styles can benefit companies and their employees, but it depends on that leader actively defining and choosing what type of style is best for them and the larger organization.
Understanding employees’ wants and needs
A team leader at a consulting firm is conducting performance reviews with their staff. In each review, the team members noted that certain processes could be more efficient or streamlined. However, in those same reviews, employees provided a range of responses about their future career goals. One employee indicated they wanted a higher salary, another stated they wanted more leadership and career opportunities, and one indicated how they wish they had more work-life balance. The above scenario shows the importance of accepting and using employee input to create processes and procedures for better company culture. “Our quirks, aspirations, and motivations shape how we like to work, and should take center stage as companies build their workforce for the future,” says Ilya Bonic, global president, Mercer Career in a report from the organization. The wants, needs and aspirations of employees should be emphasized as leaders think about how to manage and inspire employees.
Balancing organizational goals with interpersonal ones
Staff at a marketing company have been voicing their desire to work remotely, citing the fact that most of their responsibilities can be accomplished without the need for reporting to a physical office. The VP listens to them but then also considers the larger goals of the business, particularly how employees working remotely may impact the organization’s bottom line. Employees working remotely may become less efficient and visiting clients may become concerned by the sight of a half-empty office. The VP considers both the employees’ goals as well as those of the company. The executive then gives employees an option to work remotely one to two days per week while providing the reasons behind the decision.
This scenario shows how communication with employees is a vital strategy for effective leaders. “How you communicate can play a massive role in the morale of your team — how you treat your employees will have a direct impact in how they respect you, respect one another and ultimately perform on the job,” writes Larry Alton for Entrepreneur.
Projecting the image of a leader and manager
Effective leaders are more than just individuals who provide instructions to employees and team members. They serve as beacons of inspiration and models of professional behavior. Leaders must project and maintain a managerial style that elicits respect from employees.
Team members need leaders they trust, are forward thinking and accept feedback. Writing for Entrepreneur, Rehan Ijaz notes that leaders should understand the roles of everyone within the company and be well versed about current industry trends and news or conflicts relevant to their organization. “Confident leaders serve their team best by being well-informed, current and aggressively prepared,” Ijaz writes.
The Value of Servant Leadership
Servant Leadership emphasizes the importance and benefit of leading by example and creating a positive company culture. Writing for Entrepreneur, Jeffrey Hayzlett discusses how encouraging diversity of thought, being unselfish, creating a trustworthy culture, and promoting leadership within others helps to make servant leadership an effective style. Employees do closely model themselves after their leaders, but, in turn, the leader sets a positive enough example that enables their team to thrive.
Becoming an Effective Leader
A good leadership style for one person or company may not be the best fit for another. Strong leadership and successful company cultures help organizations thrive and stand out among the competition. All effective leaders regardless of style can evaluate a company’s needs as well as those of employees. They can then use those insights to make strategic decisions that benefit everyone. There are various types of leaders and leadership styles, but strong leaders commonly project confidence, are empathetic and understanding, and carefully listen to the comments and concerns of employees. Pursuing an online Master of Business Administration degree from Villanova University prepares professionals to use their advanced leadership skills to define and build a company culture that allows employees to reach for the highest levels of success.
Consisting of 21 courses delivered over six semesters, Villanova’s Master of Business Administration program provides students with advanced knowledge in performance management, business operations, team leadership, information technology and more. Graduates of Villanova’s MBA program develop professional relationships with industry peers and hone the leadership skills that prepare them to thrive in challenging senior roles in business.
Discover the Benefits of an MBA
For those who are interested in taking their career to the next level, there is a flexible option from a prestigious and established university that will help them reach new professional heights. Learn more about how Villanova University’s Master of Business Administration online program can help prepare you for success.