A freight train is coming around the corner for business owners and managers. And it's closer than you might think. New times call for new leadership styles. Businesses will not survive without having leaders who can influence multiple generations in the workforce.

When you read my rants or hear me talk about leadership, you've heard me say it more than once. Your people are your business's greatest asset. And to take that to another level, they are probably your most significant source of frustration.

Establishing and maintaining a positive business culture takes a lot of work by many people.

Leaders of all kinds shape the culture daily by how they walk, talk and communicate. Knowing that people issues can create a stranglehold in day-to-day operations, it makes sense to address how you and your leaders affect others in the organization.

How can we fast-track an ordinary manager into an effective leader? What are the essential skills? How can we get the entire team on board to follow our lead? How can we grow managers to become influential leaders? Are leaders born, or are they made?

Command & Control Leadership Style is Demotivating  

The command and control model of communications is under attack today. This starts the real internal push in an organization to address all the leaders influencing styles and finding a new pathway to correcting many chronic issues. 

Although workplaces and management styles have come a long way in the last decade, the command and control style of management behavior continues. This management approach behaves in ways that suggest employees need to be told precisely what to do, when to do it, and even how it should be done. The manager is in charge, has all the answers, and fixes all the problems.

Managers are taught to find the things that are going wrong and fix them. When the leader's style of questions is always negative based on assumptions, this permeates the organization as the proper method to resolve issues. When they are always looking for what's wrong, employees will learn to hide their mistakes. You really want them to bring mistakes forward, share them with the teams and learn. The positive questioning style and supporting behaviors of this new leadership style don't always develop naturally. Leaders have to learn to lead the process.

One of the challenges in driving organizational change is how to keep changes positive. Leaders can easily spend more time addressing perceptions than factual events. For many, change is uncomfortable and can create suspicion. Too often, employees hold back, fearing how the changes will affect their job or department, leading to struggles with implementation and process improvement. 

Participative Leadership & Coaching is Empowering

A leader's personal success will only happen when you help enough other people succeed. Caustic leader behavior is when they speak and behave in a way that highlights their success is more important than their employees. 

I've heard many leaders say that employees must accept me for who I am and do what I ask them to do. That leadership attribute is such a limiting, potentially caustic communication style that shows a genuine disconnect from the ingredients necessary to unleash creativity from individuals and teams.  

Employees Demand a Voice at the Table of Change

Today, leaders young and old know their strengths and weaknesses. They don't let their shortcomings weaken their strengths. A leader doesn't hide their flaws anymore; they never really could because employees knew these weaknesses and would talk behind the leader's back. So, in turn, this further creates a disjointed culture that cannot reach operational excellence. By learning and sharing together, the leader gets stronger, not weaker.

Does the perception I have of Myself Matter More than the Perception Others Have of Me?

A leader who truly wants to be more effective realizes that their people's perception of them can be more important than what they think of themselves—learning to "hear" these perceptions requires strength of character and a healthy self-esteem. 

The new leadership style aims to provide employees with all the necessary information to make sound business decisions. One-way communication styles are part of the old leadership style. Keeping people in the dark and feeding them only what you think they can handle is a surprisingly easy process to keep an organization from reaching its full potential. 

In the Absence of Leadership, People Will Follow the Strangest Things

It's naïve to think it's just the younger generation on their phones or is self-absorbed all the time.

Everyone is so amassed with information today from thousands of uninformed sources that it's scary to realize how all these inputs create beliefs and influence our behaviors. We can easily see on the internet and in the news where leaders in prominent positions fail the basic tests of integrity. How does all this nonsense influence young and old leaders?

When you are a leader in an organization, it stands to reason that having impeccable integrity goes with the job. They must represent themselves as someone who others like to follow. In the absence of leadership, people will follow the strangest things. Leaders today practice being a person whom others are comfortable telling them anything. They adjust their style out of genuine care and concern, not for manipulation.

Without Leaders, a Business Will Fail

Leaders who are often insulated from employees are seen as the top of the hierarchy, yet a leader can be many different people in a company. Even leaders without sales or management titles influence positive outcomes for a business every day.

You drive more revenue, manage expenses better and increase profits when everyone is leaning forward in the best way they know how. Everyone should be answering questions like: Is it good for the customer? Is it good for the business? Is it good for the team? Is it good for me?

When leaders model the change they wish others to make, it sets the tone in an organization. This leadership style leads the way when they want employees to change and improve performance. When leaders gather input from all their employees and work alongside them in developing the changes, implementation is faster and more sustainable. It's like magic when the leaders exemplify the changes they want others to make.

Creating policies, procedures and methods of operations are necessary for any organization. In today's business climate and employee empowerment, companies that adopt a participative leadership style outperform those that don't.

Your Company University

When learning and teaching is an intentional organizational practice, accomplishing the business goals becomes more predictable. Leaders today understand that cultivating their most important asset presents an opportunity to improve everyone's quality of life. With purpose and a plan they create an internal educational model to grow their existing and future talent pool. 

The volume of knowledge held in a business by the employees is immeasurable. Either you are investing in your people, or you are not.

There is a connection between great leaders. Not just those who talk about it but those who behave the way people will follow. You can have fun working on the business and having a dynamic lifestyle when you unleash the natural creativity in all of us.