Are Your Leaders Wearing Invisibility Cloaks?
“Be the change, if you want to see the change,” said Mahatma Gandhi, surely one of the world’s most inspirational and effective leaders. Admittedly he wasn’t focusing on corporate culture, but it’s a great place for us to start thinking about the important role leadership plays in setting goals and reinforcing them to make change happen.
Take Mark Zuckerberg. He famously wears a grey t-shirt to work every day (and a black hoodie when that Californian suns goes behind a cloud) and works in the same room with his co-workers. He actively encourages all of his employees to share new ideas with him. Because he is mirroring their behaviour…sitting behind a desk, writing on white boards, having actual conversations with people of all levels, his employees are happy because he’s seen to be doing what they are doing. He is walking the walk and talking the talk. This billionaire is often referred to by his employees as being “one of us”. He is the embodiment of Visible Leadership.
Not everyone inspires the almost religious adoration Zuckerberg does, but there are simple ways to make sure your leaders show Visible Leadership. It’s worth it. Time and again, employee survey results highlight that employees want to connect with senior leaders. They want to be respected and trusted by them and feel that they are engaged in their company’s strategic direction. Hearing from senior leaders is a key driver of employee satisfaction. Seeing that they embrace new initiatives and policies plays a major part in this.
1. Keep the senior team in-the-know
Communication teams can really make a difference when it comes to making sure senior leaders are seen to be on the same page as the other employees. So, if there is a big transformation project and the comms team are responsible for communicating it to the workforce, it is vital that the leadership are part of the journey so that everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.
2. Make sure they say as they do
When an initiative originates from the leadership team it is vital that it’s followed by the leadership team. When you roll out comms relating to a new initiative, be it a new health and wellbeing scheme or new digital tools, it is so important that leaders are seen to understand and adopt these new initiatives. If the senior leadership team aren’t a part of that change, you can’t expect employees to embrace it.
3. Give senior leaders (more of) a voice
Senior leaders have a crucial role in explaining where the organisation is heading, and what employees need to do to help it succeed, as well as sharing company progress and success stories. Give them a voice by doing regular “townhall” meetings or even an informal blog on the intranet – in doing so it increases authenticity and humanity.
4. Visible Leadership starts at the coal face
Encourage the senior leadership team to swap roles with other employees, sit in on a range of meetings, or hold “townhall” type Q and A sessions with employees. This creates a much more inclusive work atmosphere, and goes a long way to promoting employee satisfaction: employees are much happier when they feel they are being listened to, and that the senior team are genuinely part of their day-to-day culture.
5. Get personal
Encourage a few key senior leaders to have their own blog or area on the company intranet where they give their personal views on where the company is going – and even share stories of where they came from and lessons learned along the way.
Visible Leadership is not about employees “seeing” their leaders, it’s about leaders demonstrating through their behaviours core business values and initiatives.
Here at Avvio Reply, we can help provide insight into the importance of Leadership Visibility and how it impacts every level of your company, from attracting top talent to retaining employees and enabling a positive culture in the workplace.
Get in touch if you want to know more…