3 Steps to Becoming a Good Leader 

Magdalena Rogl, Project Lead Diversity & Inclusion bei Microsoft Deutschland über Inklusion am Arbeitsplatz

The profile of a good leader is ever changing, but the last three years especially have turned well-established leadership styles completely upside down. New work models and forms, as well as new technology and communication tools, require adaptation of both the team and the leader. Studies reveal that in the 1st quarter of 2022, employee productivity fell by 7.5% – the most severe decline in 75 years. The diagnosis? The consequences of “bad leadership.”

A quote from a German article by Wiggli states: “This is the era of leaders – the time of ‘bosses’ is over.”  

But how can you avoid being an old-fashioned “boss”? Further, what is a “good” leader? The list of approaches on what to do, how to behave, and what is unacceptable is overwhelming. Indeed, sometimes the simplest yet best solution is right in front of us, and many times doesn’t require a 180° transformation to yield positive results.  

Sociologist and author Tracy Brower, PhD, published an article in which she outlines three essential leadership qualities valued most by team members. 

Here’s 3 steps for leaders to manage teams effectively: 

#1: Show your team how much their work is appreciated   

If you conducted an impromptu questionnaire on the street asking people how competent and appreciated, they feel in their job, how many would respond with “very much”? Probably not so many. The unfortunate reality is that there are many people stuck in a rut in their jobs, carrying on but uninspired. Their reason for working? Maybe to feed a family or kill time, but certainly not because they feel very appreciated in their role and working environment.  

Yet all human beings long for recognition. This applies to all areas of life, including work. After all, is there anything that feels better than being validated by one’s managers? Deep down, employees feel the desire to be an important part of something big, to make a personal contribution to a shared goal, and to have the opportunity to demonstrate skills and talents. 

How can leaders emphasize skills in the team? 

First, it is extremely important to communicate the common corporate vision as well as the company values in a transparent way. Moreover, remind yourself daily the importance of every contribution and the personal value of everyone towards achieving that goal. Highlight this in your day-to-day work. Because the truth is that every employee functions as an essential, irreplaceable piece in the big puzzle of the company’s success. During this, also make the team responsible for results; both for successes and failures: no one in the team is supposed to have the feeling that their own work is irrelevant and unimportant.  

Empower your team by giving them confidence to solve problems or difficult projects on their own. Learning by doing may lead to great developmental improvements. 

A quote in a Forbes article finds its own words for this: “Make employees feel responsible for what they do. Let them understand and truly appreciate the value of the work they do and how their role impacts the overall business. Get their buy-in and let them feel the value of what they are doing.”  

Provide transparent and honest feedback and show support – even in the case of mistakes or failed projects. This way managers can prove that they are attentive to all the team’s activities and make constant efforts to enable employees to do better. 

Magdalena Rogl, Project Lead Diversity & Inclusion bei Microsoft Deutschland über Inklusion am Arbeitsplatz

#2: Foster a sense of autonomy and flexibility in your employees 

Studies have shown that increased levels of decision-making are significantly correlated with more engagement, better performance, and higher levels of satisfaction. If you take a closer look at this, it is easy to see why. For instance: If an employee’s working hours can be arranged more flexibly, the more likely the person is to be able to meet multiple demands – and this may even lead to a better quality of work and life. All people naturally yearn for a sense of independence, to benefit from more freedom of choice, and more personal responsibility especially as this provides a sense of trust. 

How can leaders create an autonomous work environment? 

Let your team decide from where and at what hours they want to work. The increased flexibility leads to a better work-life balance, better well-being, and can even increase performance and productivity. 

Empower your workforce. Encourage creative input and participation in projects, involve them in important and relevant decision-making processes. Provide the team with new challenges every day, while leaving it up to the employees to decide which projects they want to be part of, or even take charge of, and which they would rather not. Because after all, being personally interested in a project also has a great influence on a participant’s motivation — and the more motivated the team, the better the result. 

Basically, freedom of choice plays an important role in terms of autonomy, and the more decision alternatives, the better. This does not only apply to decisions regarding working hours or participation in projects: the freedom to decide on smaller and perhaps less important events also gives a feeling of autonomy. Like deciding whether to join the team for lunch, spend the break alone, or with your favorite colleague in the park to clear your head. Offer your team a choice of alternative actions but make clear and communicate frankly: everything is possible, nothing is mandatory. 

Magdalena Rogl, Project Lead Diversity & Inclusion bei Microsoft Deutschland über Inklusion am Arbeitsplatz