CEO Insider

Fostering Leadership in your Employees: From work mill to value institution

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Today’s workplace needs a shake-up. We are heading to a future where business managers will lose the vitality of their employees, and corporations will lag because of a disengaged workforce. By continuously choosing a “work mill” model of thinking, today’s business leaders are culprits in creating a culture of drones who are just putting in their time instead of delivering value.

Imagine a business where each employee feels both professionally and personally invested; a business that begins to operate as a community where employees are shareholders and stewards who work to achieve a common vision. These employees have self-initiative; they are divergent thinkers that recognize their own value and the value of those around them.

Sound too good to be true?

What if I told you that this vision is not only possible, but also completely attainable?

It all begins with fostering leadership. Organization’s “upper management” must learn to identify and align with the core values of their employees, to bring out each person’s leadership potential. On the flipside, if businesses don’t nurture the leadership potential in their own employees, they will never make the jump from “work mills” where people sell their time for money to “value institutions” that drive people to do better.

So my question for you is: Are you nurturing future leaders through your organization or just clocking in employees who are looking for their next paycheck? It is attainable. But how are organizations to achieve such an aspirational approach to leadership, where the employee is a member of the team and more than a warm body.

Perhaps the follow steps may help.

Step 1: Identify Your Core Values

Fostering leadership begins at the top. Natural leadership thrives when work is aligned with an individual’s core values.

Success in business and entrepreneurship begins with knowing your core values and creating your life—all the areas of your life, from work to home—as an expression of them. By taking the time to identify your core values, you can ensure that you weave these values into your business.

Articulating your company’s core values to employees is the first step to how a successful company lives and breathes by its value system. Core values should not only inform products, policies, services and quality, they are also an essential element of effective leadership.

Step 2: Find Common Ground

For a successful business, you don’t need your employees to share the same core values as the business. In fact, it is diversity of values, the intermingling of ideas and talents, that pushes a successful business to the next level.

The process for aligning employees with company values works this way: Let’s say that you run a financial services company whose core values include “respect, service and empowerment.” You have an employee, Jean, who has a core value of “creativity.” What are some ways that Jean can be encouraged to find new ways of furthering the company’s values as an extension of this creativity?

When an employee’s work is aligned with their core value system, the employee makes the jump from worker to collaborator. They are no longer working for a paycheck but for something that they believe in.

Step 3: Let Go of Ownership

Let’s say you’ve invested the time to align values with careers, but your employees are still watching the clock. What’s going on? Integrating values will bring forth passion, but the work mill mentality will not disappear unless your employees are given the opportunity to lead. Have you fostered your employees’ natural leadership skills or are you still trying to take control?

When owners hold onto ownership they stop employees from aspiring to do more. CEOs need to stop doing everything. Remember, running a business is not about holding onto control, it’s about having a conviction so powerful that it mobilizes people into action. In your case, the reason you’re in business is because you are passionate about the service or product you sell.

To build a thriving company with empowered leaders, CEOs need to trust their employees and find ways to release the reins. Employers should encourage their employees to take risks and recognize that there is value in failure. Failure encourages your employees to learn, grow and become well-rounded leaders.

Encouraging future leaders begins with the CEO. Every step, every action that you take, every decision that is made, should start and stop with fostering leadership.

Your employees can either become one of your biggest assets or your largest liability. Identifying and integrating values is the first step towards true business leadership and corporate success. The best way for today’s business managers to avoid a time-clocking workforce is to nurture leadership from the top down. When CEOs foster a values-aligned environment, the corporation will evolve from being a production mill into an idea that employees can get behind.

Julian Bolster is a business coach, professional speaker and founder of the Bolster Life Group.

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Featured Columnists at the CEOWORLD Magazine is a team of experts led by Camilla O'Donnell, James Reed, Amarendra Bhushan, and Amanda Millar. The CEOWORLD Magazine is the worlds leading business and technology magazine for CEOs (chief executives) and top-level management professionals.
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