Few people are natural leaders. In fact, according to Gallup, only one in 10 people who are promoted naturally possess the ability to lead. A survey by the Korn Ferry Institute also found that 62 per cent of business leaders experience leadership gaps, with only 17 per cent feeling confident that they have the leadership capabilities to fully deliver on strategic priorities. Of course, some people will instinctively be good leaders, naturally possessing the qualities needed to inspire and motivate their teams. Others will need to work harder to lead a team well. However regardless of a person’s initial leadership qualities and capabilities, every person can learn to be a better leader so long as the employer is willing to train and support them. Part of this means investing in technologies that can help an average manager to flourish and scale their capabilities to become a first-rate leader.
Training the leader
The first step towards developing a great leader is for the employer to educate and train managers on effective leadership characteristics and methods. The wise employer will understand that being a leader is no longer about exerting power and authority over others, but is about humility and creating a secure, safe and stress-free environment. It’s about getting to know staff on a personal level in order to create a great connection, being a cheerleader rather than taking the credit, sharing leadership and common goals and helping people to grow, shine and feel inspired.
Educating managers on the ‘whys and hows’ of great leadership can be achieved in all manner of ways and shouldn’t just be done in a classroom setting or a one-to-one teaching environment. Online instructional tools, media sharing platforms such as YouTube, web conferences and podcasts are just some solutions that can help to support learning in an engaging way.
Giving leaders the tools to excel
Once managers have an understanding of how they can go about inspiring their teams to greatness, they need to be effectively supported by a range of technologies. The most beneficial include the following:
Mentoring and performance technologies
The best leaders will recognise the importance of mentoring, supporting, connecting with and developing their people, but it’s important that this can be achieved without an administrative headache. Continuous performance management technologies can ensure one-to-ones occur regularly and are positive, engaging and productive experiences for both manager and employee. The more sophisticated technologies will also guide the manager on the best ways to communicate with staff, provide coaching, set goals, track key insights and follow up with their team members. For those leaders who struggle with tackling awkward conversations, such technology could prove invaluable.
Delivering effective appreciation and recognition is vital for staff engagement and motivation, however if the giving and receiving of recognition is made time-consuming and cumbersome, it will happen rarely and ineffectually. So recognition technology needs to be easy-to-use and navigate and integrated into the flow of work, after all, people don’t want to have to log-off what they’re doing to then log into the recognition app. Linking recognition to reward and making it effortless for people to select and then receive their gift is also key.
Service award technology
Celebrating careers is just as important as recognising and rewarding effort and so leaders need to be able to meaningfully mark landmarks in employees’ careers. Of course, leaders can’t be expected to keep track of every employee milestone - service award technology can take on this responsibility and also help to appropriately mark the occasion. O.C Tanner’s ‘Yearbook’ software automates the compilation of a personalised commemorative book, for example, helping to make the career milestone extra special and yet hassle-free to organise.
There are a variety of wellbeing solutions on the market that can help leaders to better support their teams’ physical and mental wellbeing as well as their own. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches, can allow employees to monitor different aspects of their health. Real-time data can be provided on exercise levels, sleep cycles and eating habits and some wellbeing apps can also provide tips on reducing stress levels and give advice on who to contact if work is getting too much. By linking the app and wearable to the company's recognition software, staff can even be rewarded for healthy habits.
Growing tomorrow’s leaders
HR tech can’t single-handedly make a poor leader into a great one, however it’s a vital support for managers, helping them to more effectively connect with, develop and inspire their teams. Ultimately, it’s the organisation’s responsibility to make the right technologies available to grow the leaders of tomorrow. Failure to do so will result in a struggling management team who may have the desire and ‘know-how’ to be great leaders but simply don’t have the tools to turn their aspirations into reality.
About Robert Ordever
Robert joined O.C. Tanner in August 2014. From luxury retail at Harrods to Premier League football with Fulham FC, Robert's HR and operational background has given him a real passion for creating a workplace culture that truly gets the best out of its teams.