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Developing future leaders and building collaborative organisations

Article by Jon Faulkner, Founder - 6bythree Digital

I’ve talked a lot in recent months about the importance that business leaders should be placing on lifelong learning to help produce better collaborative teamwork and employee satisfaction.  Central to this idea is leadership and its role in growing a strong culture of teamwork and  innovation.  Good leadership can transform a business and bring a team together.  Not only that, working in an organisation that demonstrates good leadership, will help employees to develop good leadership skills themselves which they can take with them into future leadership roles.

The role of a leader has changed over time.  Of course it’s about vision and values but today, leaders need to have good emotional intelligence, be committed to their workforce and be focused on enabling diversity and learning.  Let’s look at what good leadership looks like today:

Teamwork and collaboration
Today’s best leaders encourage a spirit of collaboration and initiative.  They give people the chance to grow and shine and utilise the skills of the whole team, regardless of where they sit in the company, to help share problems and solutions.  By bringing the right team together using creative collaborative processes like design thinking, leaders can help to grow individual accountability and allow for teams to share in a common vision to solve issues within the business.

Encouraging initiative
By creating a process of shared ownership across an organisation, good leaders can encourage initiative and creativity.  Allowing people to think outside of their day to day job can spark truly creative solutions.  This takes me back again to the  design thinking process which is a perfect example of how to use teamwork to encourage initiative and  solve problems collaboratively.  It allows for a shared experience where everybody works on a task, whatever their level in the company giving them a sense of ownership in the problem and solution.  Giving people the independence and confidence to share ideas are good future leadership skills. This holds true across working together on strategy definition, change programmes or organisational improvement activities.

Personalised learning
Building a sense of wellbeing and growth is vital to running a successful business. Creating a personalised learning programme for each team member and encouraging a culture of lifelong learning as well as encouraging people to be creative and learn new skills, are key to running a strong business. Employers who are committed to encouraging lifelong learning on an individual basis and give people the scope to build skills alongside others as part of an effective team, find that they can build a confident workforce who remain loyal to the organisation.  Studies have shown that the more encouragement that people are given to learn throughout their lives, the more they will be willing to embrace new ideas and feel a sense of fulfillment in their role.  This also helps with building an individual’s resilience, wellbeing and ways of coping with future uncertain times.

Mentoring and coaching
This can be a two way process.  Junior staff can coach more senior staff and vice versa.  The key aim is about learning and evolving as an individual.  For junior staff, mentoring a more senior member of the team and maybe teaching them new skills, can help to bring about growth and can assist in the development of key competencies.  The mentor feels fulfillment and satisfaction as a result of helping others and contributing to the development of colleagues.  It can also be a fantastic way of developing leadership skills in those with potential.

Trust and flexibility
Leaders who trust their workers to do their best, will create a working culture that encourages individuals to maintain a good work/life balance.  If you trust your team, then flexible working, duvet days and remote working should all be part of the mix.  Workers who feel they have a good work/life balance and feel trusted by their leaders,  are more confident and will work harder for the good of the company.

Social get togethers
Company culture is vital to creating vision and values.  Having a shared and common sense of purpose and a feeling of being part of a team is key.  Leaders who understand this, encourage social get togethers so workers can get to know each other better and create friendship bonds.

Today’s leaders understand the value of empathy and emotional wellbeing.  They want people to do their best and they want to retain good, talented individuals.  To do that, they have learned that workers who feel fulfilled in their jobs, have a good work/life balance and lots of opportunities to further their career and learn on the job, will be loyal and committed and work hard. By providing consistent and enduring support and commitment to team development and collaboration, good leaders can be great role models, setting an example and establishing trust so that each individual can invest themselves fully in new initiatives. Creating this culture of learning and collaboration will in turn create good future leaders who also understand the value of team work and collaboration.

    Jon held project delivery and operational leadership roles at Accenture Consulting and Xchanging before moving to CIO level within a large-scale HE organisation. Most recently, Jon led the start-up and growth of Domain7 UK, a global Digital Design Agency, with offices in UK and Canada. As from July 2021 he founded design consultancy 6bythree Digital.

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