Visionary leadership creates empowered teams and encourages innovation and engagement. As an executive, how you lead your team sets the tone for other leaders, offering a valuable opportunity to foster a purposeful, productive culture from the top down.
Below, we’ll explore how executives can demonstrate their leadership skills and provide a powerful example to their team members.
Empower and develop your team
Investing in your team is a crucial ingredient of successful leadership because empowered teams tend to perform better. The Harvard Business Review analyzed over 30,000 global employees to examine the link between empowering leadership styles and workplace performance. The results were clear — empowered employees generally demonstrate increased creativity and problem-solving skills.
Delegating tasks can feel risky, and it requires you to put your trust in your team’s abilities. On the other hand, smart delegation can free you to focus on the bigger picture. It also allows your team members to develop their initiative and confidence. Evidence shows that trusted employees are more loyal to their companies. The same study discovered these employees are more likely to have faith in business leaders and show positive citizenship behaviors, such as taking on challenges and volunteering for extra responsibilities.
However, there’s a balance between empowering and overloading your team. According to HBR, positive relationships are vital in enabling executives to delegate successfully without burdening their team members with unmanageable workloads. You can give your team the skills and motivation to work more independently by facilitating high-quality professional development opportunities and rewarding outstanding performance.
As an executive, your leadership style sets the tone for the rest of the company. If your employees witness you embracing innovation as a cornerstone of your workplace culture, they’ll feel more empowered to generate new concepts, potentially giving your company an edge in a competitive marketplace. Innovation is especially critical now due to seismic changes in how companies do business.
For example, the rise of artificial intelligence has increased the urgency to adapt. While AI can benefit organizations by automating tasks and reducing human error, it also poses major challenges. In the short-term, increased automation could lead to significant layoffs in tech and other sectors. In addition to future proofing their business model, companies must also carefully consider their AI strategies to avoid issues such as privacy breaches and unintended bias. Embedding thoughtful innovation in your team ethos now can set your team up to face these challenges confidently and creatively in the future.
As a leader, you can encourage innovation from the top down by modeling curiosity and openly embracing opportunities to improve your skills and knowledge. You can also support your team to broaden their thinking and approach tasks more creatively by providing ongoing employee education and celebrating the successes of innovative team members and projects.
Develop a clear vision
Clarity of vision underpins any purposeful, productive team, but how you communicate your goals and strategies to your team is critical to keeping your team members on track for success. Even if it feels redundant to you, you should regularly communicate a clear, concise mission and strategy to your team so they understand what you expect of them and can keep projects running on schedule to help meet those goals. Using project management software can help you to efficiently delegate and track tasks within your team. ClickUp’s time-tracking and project workflow features can help to boost team organization and productivity.
While developing your own communication skills is essential for setting a clear vision, your team should also be able to ask questions to help them understand their responsibilities. Creating a culture where workers feel comfortable coming to you with questions can help avoid misunderstandings and prevent issues from developing. If communication is an issue for particular team members, you could consider providing training to support them in developing these skills.
Developing systems for monitoring performance and progress can also make it easier to troubleshoot problems early. Ensure your team receives regular feedback and make time to listen to their suggestions for improvement.
Another essential element of having clear vision involves always being prepared to revise your ideas. Leadership is a constant learning process, especially in a rapidly-changing landscape — being open with yourself and others about challenges can help you adapt instead of sticking rigidly to a plan that isn’t working.
Cultivate emotional intelligence
As an executive, communication with your team significantly impacts workplace culture and performance. Therefore, being self-aware and dealing with others empathetically and respectfully is of particular importance.
Spending time reflecting, requesting feedback from colleagues, and working on your interpersonal skills doesn’t just enhance your team’s perceptions of you as a leader — it could even affect your company’s bottom line. A 2019 study examining the impact of leadership styles found that leaders who demonstrate care for their employees create improved engagement. Unsurprisingly, employees feel less engaged working under more autocratic leaders. A recent HR study found that poor engagement costs global businesses around $7.8 trillion annually, underlining the significance of emotional intelligence at an executive level.
Incorporating these practices into your leadership style can improve your team’s experience, but it can also have a broader impact on your company’s success. Setting a clear vision, focusing on communication, and empowering your team creates the culture you need to adapt to future challenges.
Emily Crowley is a Senior Content Writer and Resume Expert at Resume Genius, where she loves helping job seekers overcome obstacles and advance their careers. She graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Foreign Language and Culture.