For 2017 I Wish For Effective Leadership

With the holiday season upon us, now is a good time to pause and reflect on current trends and developments in business – and in the spirit of the New Year, set some goals for 2017.

My professional holiday wish list is quite short this year. I really only have one wish. However, my one wish has wide-reaching influence on many workplace aspects, from the employee experience to bottom line business results, so it is an important one.:

I wish for organizations of all sizes to take serious stock in developing effective and empowered leaders at all levels.

Why leadership effectiveness matters

It is true we all want to enjoy what we do and have fun with people we work with, but more importantly, we want to work with individuals who keep us accountable; who challenge us to give our best and who empower us to achieve and grow our careers.

Effective leadership — leadership that is transparent and empowering, and focused on leading experiences vs. people — has a positive impact on employee engagement, retention, customer loyalty, the recruitment of top talent and overall brand perception and influence.

From wish to reality

What effective leadership comes down to is having the right people with the right talents and experience in place, helping cultivate employees who feel empowered and self-guided. Trust and business acumen are key to building this type of work culture.

Having said that, we have to be honest with ourselves and our people. Not everyone is destined to be a leader. Nor is everyone born to lead. Strong leadership behaviors are something we have or don’t. When we find people who are natural leaders, we have to invest in them and develop their leadership strengths. By investing in their strengths and extending their leadership reach, we assist in the facilitation of driving employee empowerment, which in turn drives employee engagement, retention and loyalty.

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If you are a leader, I encourage you to consider the following:

  • Encourage on-the-spot developmental feedback when working with individual people, or teams to help troubleshoot issues immediately.
  • Help people understand the organization’s main goals and what you’re trying to achieve so they have a clear understanding of their contribution and how it matters. This isn’t a goal cascading event but rather a bottoms up approach to aligning priorities and outcomes.
  • Present new challenges and opportunities to help people reach their full potential and to motivate them to do their best every day.
  • Allow for flexibility and creative input from individual people and teams when it comes to problem solving – give them a chance to tackle the problem first.
  • Take a step back and let people do their job. The most successful leaders get out of the way of their people.
  • Show your appreciation – find ways to say “thank you” in ways that resonate with the individual or team. Remember to personalize when possible.

For organizations to transform; for “regrettable turnover” to cease; for employees to achieve; for solutions to be uncovered; for customers to be delighted it starts at the top. Select leaders who can naturally lead. Educate and develop your leaders continuously, and hold them accountable to their overall effectiveness. If you can get these pieces right, everything else on your holiday wish list for your organization will begin to fall into place.

Lisa Sterling

Lisa Sterling is the Chief People Officer for Ceridian, focused on executing the organization’s global people strategy combined with leading the vision of Dayforce Talent Management. Lisa originally joined Ceridian in June 2015 as Vice President of Dayforce Talent Management, responsible for global product strategy for Talent technologies. Lisa’s broad range of expertise covers the entire people experience as well as talent management technology. A recognized thought leader to the market and Ceridian’s clientele, Lisa has a true passion for people and products and promotes new ways of bringing the two together in a way that drives business outcomes. Follow her @lisamsterling.