How Managers Can Become Great Leaders: The Future of Leadership

The world of work has been going through some extraordinary changes, and not just from the pandemic. 

In recent years more and more employees have started to believe in the new age of work, which, according to Gallup, is to have a great job. 

Millennials and GenZ’s primary concerns are no longer job security or putting bread on the table with improved salary, benefits, and job numbers. 

Instead, Millennials and GenZ want a job that is rich in its purpose and aligns with their values. 

Yet, while the work world’s demands continue to change, the practice of management and how we lead today’s workforce remains stuck in the past. 

Check out this video to see how the demands of work has changed and what managers can do to keep up. 👇

In this article, I’m going to analyze the data behind why these work world changes are so important and why the practice of management needs to catch up.

The Problem: Business Aren't Developing Their Talent

Everyone wants a company of great growth and revenue, but you must grow your leadership to grow your company. 

What many don’t realize is that the success, growth, and development of their company hinges on the development of their people. 

But in today’s business landscape, employees aren’t developing. 

Instead, the most common business strategy of today’s age is to acquire new companies which allow businesses to access innovative strategies and ideas. 

But an article by HBR’s Jemison and Sitkin shows that acquisition strategies often aren’t as lucrative and effective as we think they’ll be. 

Brandon Gaille notes the many disadvantages of acquisitions strategies, including high cost, decreased competition and differentiation in the marketplace, and higher turnover rates, costly in both time and money. 

Rather than spending millions on acquisitions, we need a new growth strategy. One focused on a new workplace culture that prioritizes human growth. 

Some of the biggest challenges managers face are related to talent optimization, whether that be finding the right talent, aligning employees with business strategy, creating a great work environment, or getting the most out of people. 

The biggest challenge is that employees aren’t developing, and talent is more competitive than ever. 

According to It’s the Manager by Gallup, 85% of employees worldwide aren’t engaged, and the majority of those disengaged employees leave, costing businesses thousands of dollars in high employee turnover rates. 

And trying to find and hire top talent employees with a high turnover rate is almost impossible, making the talent competition feel impossible. 

Many think the solution to these destructive disengaged employee rates is related to recruitment, onboarding, or benefits, but it’s actually more closely related to the manager.

Below you will find a discussion on the solution posed by Unicorn Labs to employee disengagement.

The Solution: Business Growth Requires Leadership Growth

It turns out that the biggest indicator of employee engagement (and also overall team performance) is a high-development corporate learning culture. 

In other words, you need to close your talent optimization gap.  

The best way to close this gap is focus on maximizing the potential of your employees. 

So, where does this corporate change to transform employee performance come from? … It starts with the manager. 

Gallup found that the manager determines 70% of team engagement is determined by the manager.

That means that to reshape your corporate culture, you need to start by developing your managers into leaders who create high-performing teams. 

Leaders who have the capacity to create high-performing teams, or as we like to call them, Unicorn Leaders, prioritize the development of their team. 

They understand that by taking care of their team, their team will enable all other business and leadership goals to fall into place (i.e. budgets, product launches, project development, etc.). 

In the next section, I discuss what changes need to occur to allow a learning development culture to flourish within your company. 

How to Implement Change

As we’ve discussed above, the work world has fallen behind how people work, live, and experience their lives. 

If companies want to start bringing in top-tier talent, they need to start accommodating the needs and wants of that talent. 

To today’s generations, a great job is made up of purpose, encourages development, includes ongoing conversations, is strength-based, is lead by a coach (not a boss) and compliments their lifestyle and values. 

Below you will find a list of the six changes we have seen in the workplace throughout recent years. 

My Purpose

People want work with purpose and contribution to greater meaning. The emphasis has switched from the primary concern being a paycheck, to purpose. 

Managers help give jobs purpose because they can help employees see the affects of their work on the bigger picture and encourage employee development.

My Development 

Employees don’t care about the fancy bells and whistles that come with a job, sure having a ping-pong table and fancy coffee machine is nice, but what people care more about is their own personal and professional development. 

Every job an employee enters is part of their career journey and they want managers to start recognizing that responsibility. Manager need to be their to help their employee set and achieve their professional goals. 

My Coach 

Everyone hates a boss, but they often look up to and admire their coach. Pace-setting leadership is now a thing of the past. 

In this informational and knowledge based economy an authority style leadership only gets in the way of collaboration and innovation. 

Instead managers need to act as coaches who encourage problem solving and provide iterative feedback. 

My Ongoing Conversations

Today we live in a world of constant connection and communication. Work is no different. 

Employees don’t want their managers to talk to them once every six months, they want constant conversations about their development and improvement. 

Managers need to ensure that they don’t just ignore their employees, but connect with them and check in with them on a regular basis. By doing this managers show their support and are able to continuously aid in development. 

My Strengths 

Research shows that weaknesses never become strengths, instead we need to allow people to play to their strengths. 

When people are able to utilize their strengths at work they feel motivated and empowered. 

Managers must ensure employees are assigned tasks based on what they do best instead of letting weaknesses get in the way. 

My Life

GenZ and millennials recognize that work what they spend the majority of their lives doing so its crucial for them to have something they engage with and see growth in.

They want a job that compliments their strengths and aligns with their values. 

Managers can make this happening by showing their employees the greater purpose of their work and allowing them to work to their strengths. 

It’s time to start asking employees if there’s someone at work who cares about, and encourages their development. 

The leadership changes from past to future depend on team development. Managers must make their employees their top priority because all the growth and movement of a product and company starts with your employees. 

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