Employees are Rejecting Traditional Leadership: How to Become the Modern Leader

Thriving Workplace Culture

Being a great leader is more than giving employees directions. It’s about bringing them into the narrative to be partners in the success of the organization. Ask Fuel First answers a question about leadership: How can I teach my employees leadership skills while maintaining my own presence as a leader?

When people think of a leader, a boss often comes to mind. You know the type—they direct their team and the team does the work. At Fuel Medical, we believe there’s more to leadership than giving orders. Great leaders co-create a shared purpose for their team and will partner with them in their success. This person is more than just a boss; they are a Modern Leader. 

The traditional idea of a leader is more like the boss we mentioned previously. In the past, once someone made it to the leadership level they were supposed to have all of the answers. Unfortunately, some people still believe this is true. A Modern Leader provides direction but, more importantly, takes on the role of mentor and coach depending on the situation. They empower the people they work with to make decisions and bring new ideas to the table. They recognize each employee’s contribution and share its impact on the organization or the customer. 

What’s the Difference Between Directive and Supportive Leadership Styles? 

Modern Leaders consider which style of leadership to use when dealing with employees based on the situation and each employee’s phase of professional development.  

  • Directive Leadership Style: Employees want a leader out in front, teaching, showing them the way and illuminating what’s possible. 
  • Supportive Leadership Style: Employees want a leader who’s got their back and is at times encouraging or nudging them forward to build their confidence. 

What’s the Best Way to Building Leadership Within an Organization? 

To be a great leader, you need time and practice to learn leadership skills, which is why Fuel Medical has advocated for building leadership from the bottom up. What do we mean by that? Every person in the organization should be treated as a leader. Most leaders don’t get promoted into their position with the ability to lead. They also don’t learn these new skills instinctively. On the contrary, they are a product of cultures that have integrated leadership responsibilities into everyday organizational life where everyone from the top of the organizational chart to the bottom live by common leadership principles.  

Build a Culture of Leadership 

At Fuel Medical, we believe the burden of leadership no longer rests solely on the shoulders of the manager. If you truly want to build a culture of collaboration and support, each employee needs resources and skills like emotional intelligence, communication styles, giving and receiving feedback and leadership styles. They learn these skills when working with others and through opportunities, such as leading projects or coordinating the efforts of a smaller team within a project.  

What is Reverse Mentoring? 

Reverse mentorship is a great way to develop leadership skills, plus it gives leaders another perspective of the practice. Imagine you are working the front desk and your manager makes a point to ask you how you would handle a situation or solve a problem. How would you feel? We think you’d feel like your opinion mattered. In the process, you are putting yourself in a leadership mindset. When you start thinking like a leader, you’re on your way to becoming one. And the manager has just as much to gain.  

People often think leaders make decisions in a vacuum—no one else is involved. This is false. Leaders should try and collect information and perspective from others before making a decision. Reverse mentoring will happen organically when you seek to get other employees’ perspectives on an issue, because it’s an opportunity for you to learn something new. You’ll be surprised at its impact on you and the organization.  

If you want to put the ideas in this article into practice, think back to how you’ve used reverse mentoring, either intentionally or unintentionally, and reflect on the benefit to you, the employee and the organization. Then check out other Ask Fuel First articles and videos to learn about topics that relate to your practice.

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