The 4 Traits of Leaders Who Drive Employee Engagement and Retention

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When we look at the workplace today, we see a very different environment than it was just a few years ago. Teams are becoming more diverse, roles are becoming more complex, and work is becoming more dynamic. But is leadership evolving to accommodate these changes?

There is a common combination of skills and attributes employers tend to look for in potential leaders, including communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. But what about employees? What do they value in a leader? And does your organization cultivate the kind of leaders who keep employees engaged, productive, and loyal?

What Employees Look for in Leaders

A company’s leaders can have a huge impact on employee engagement and, consequently, employee retention. Much of it comes down to the relatively simple act of employee appreciation.

According to research from O.C. Tanner, 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs name a lack of appreciation from their leaders as one of their reasons for leaving. When people don’t feel valued for their work, they’re likely to grow disengaged and, ultimately, leave.

So, what characteristics do leaders need in order to keep employees satisfied and engaged? They need the soft skills and character traits that lend themselves to employee appreciation. Here are a few of those skills:

1. Listening

A common complaint from employees is that they don’t feel heard or they don’t know how to voice their opinions. Worse, when they do share their opinions, some employees end up being ignored or unfairly criticized by their managers.

This is why leaders have to learn how to listen to their employees. The act of listening helps build rapport, makes employees feel valued, and creates the kind of positive work culture that drives retention. It’s important to note that learning to listen also means learning to accept constructive feedback from subordinates.

2. Empathy

Every leader needs to be able to put themselves in their employees’ shoes and understand their situations. Empathetic leaders are good at gauging the moods of their team members and take the initiative to understand their needs. A leader simply cannot guide and support their team members properly if they do not understand their feelings and perspectives?

3. Teamwork

Of course, leadership is not simply about issuing orders. It is about understanding how people work together and creating a culture where appropriate teamwork is encouraged and rewarded.

The best leaders are those who empower and encourage their teams to do their best work. These leaders share their knowledge and expertise with their teams to help them succeed. They listen to their team members, truly understand what they are trying to accomplish, and lend the necessary support to ensure employees reach their goals. They take personal responsibility for their teams and are not afraid to work in the trenches right alongside their employees.

4. Resilience

When challenges arise, employees turn to the boss for guidance. Being resilient in the face of adversity is the mark of a strong leader. They are the ones who can shepherd a business through difficult times and get the company back on track.

It is vital for leaders to instill trust in their employees by remaining confident in stressful situations and helping their employees thrive when the going gets tough. A resilient leader also possesses the ability to search for answers no matter what the problem is. They go above and  beyond the obvious, trying creative solutions to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Strong Leaders Drive Employee Engagement

When asked to describe a strong leader, many of use would immediately think of a person who is decisive, a good communicator, and someone who gets things done. But a leader is more than just a person with a strong personality. A leader must be intelligent and aligned with the goals of the company; they must understand that employees are an organization’s most important asset.

Every compan wants to retain its top employees and keep them engaged. When you have strong leaders on your team, your workers will thrive. Research shows that the strength of a leadership team can have a major impact on a company’s productivity. Strong leadership leads to a more engaged, productive workforce.

To quote leadership consultant Marshall Goldsmith, “One of the most important things a leader can d is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!”

Aneela Zaib is the CEO and founder of EmergiTEL.

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Aneela Zaib is the CEO and founder of EmergiTEL, a growing recruitment agency that has become the go-to source for hard-to-find skills in the telecommunications and IT industries. Winning awards from EY and RBC, Aneela has established herself as one of the most prolific female entrepreneurs in the IT and telecom industries. Aneela continues to bring her entrepreneurial spirit and emphasis on workplace values to everything she does.