4 Leadership Traits that are Essential in 2016

With the first quarter of 2016 over and an unclear economic picture ahead of us, the need for strong leadership has never been greater. Therefore, it is vital for companies to assess what they can do to better lead their times and develop the next line of leaders.

By Mark Stuart, Anagram Group


In this article, I focus on four key trends that are essential for the workplace in 2016.


1. More Feedback, Less Bureaucracy


There have been huge shifts in corporate thinking over the past 18 months regarding performance reviews and appraisals. Microsoft, Dell, GE and Adobe are just some of the companies that are ditching the traditional performance review in favour of more consistent feedback throughout the year. The key here is to remove the time consuming bureaucracy that normally comes with these programmes, then making it an easier, more transparent process for all parties. For me, managers should be meeting with their employees on a regular basis — at least fortnightly or monthly — so that every quarter can focus on giving feedback and discussing career development with each of your direct reports. Take simple notes, share them with the employee, agree on action points and listen to any concerns.


2. Adaptability


Whether it is new technology or systemic shocks, workplaces have to adapt at lightening speeds in order to keep up with the competition. There is simply no time to pine for the past, where you could take three to six months to react to market moves or change direction. Technology is allowing these previously cumbersome initiatives to be completed in record time, and companies that are slow to react will lose out — and by ‘lose out’, I mean fail. This requires all employees and leaders to learn how to adapt and upgrade their skills as this does not come naturally to everyone. Most employees dislike change and disruption because it upsets the status quo that we tend to seek at work. Changes also force you to learn new things and become a novice again after spending so long to master your current role. However, it is a skill that can be taught and reinforced through action, so invest time and money to ensure your company is not left behind.


3. Speed of Execution


Similar to above, leaders need to ensure that their teams can execute faster. This does not mean working longer hours. Instead, it is about working smarter. Review your technology, your processes, your team and their skill sets. By all means, hire more people but make sure they are smart (ideally smarter than you) and add value to the team. If you hire the same type of people you always have, you are going to get the same results. Speed is everything nowadays, but you cannot compromise quality. People are used to getting things — information, goods, gratification — in an instant, and this is no different with the good or services you offer.


4. Open Authentic Communication


Office politics often gets in the way of open communication, yet it’s one of the most important qualities that leaders need to display. By open, I mean sharing with their employees their concerns, feedback, positive reinforcement, praise, company developments or updates on key projects. Be curious, ask questions, and enforce a transparent culture. Some companies take it even further by sharing people’s salaries, but personally, that’s taking it too far. There’s always some stuff that shouldn’t be shared, but eliminate any “us vs them” scenarios, and you’ll see trust and engagement on the rise. This is crucial if you have a high proportion of Millennials working for you.


The remainder of 2016 remains uncertain across many industries. What is common, is the need for leaders to adapt and be versatile to changing demand and trends. Adopting a static leadership model no longer works; survival of the fittest will be for those who are able to stay agile and adapt to the changing environment.