Early in my career, I went to work for a company that had a notoriously bad reputation for the way they treated their employees and a Glassdoor rating to match. It was safe to assume the leadership qualities of the previous manager were lacking to say the very least. In comments, the staff mentioned things like poor communication, micromanagement, high turnover rates, and fear, and uncertainty among the employees. It was bad. But I love a good challenge.
My job was to manage the sales team. They had been in a position where they felt their job was continuously threatened and their performance undervalued for years, and they were wildly skeptical and weary the first time I came breezing into their office, a smile on my face and a box of doughnuts in my hand. They did not know I was determined to manage differently.
I was determined to be different.
It was not easy. There was pressure from the leadership above me to manage in the same way they had done for years. I had to continuously fight to have my voice heard and remind them that if we did what we always have done that we would get the same results we have always had. An unhappy and disengaged sales team is not a productive sales team.I had to remind them that if we did what we always have done that we would get the same results we have always had. An unhappy 🙁 and disengaged sales team is not a #productive #SalesTeam. Click To Tweet
I thought about the ways I had been managed that felt belittling and stifling and unkind. And then I thought about leaders that encouraged me and challenged me and inspired loyalty.
I came up with 10 qualities of leaders who inspire loyalty in their team and worked to emulate each one.
10 Leadership qualities to inspire loyalty in your team:
- Leaders roll up their sleeves: A leader who inspires loyalty never asks anyone to do a task they aren’t willing to do. They never consider a job to be beneath them. They are willing to come early and stay late. They are in the trenches with the team and the team respects them for it.
- They recognize the need for work-life balance and encourage it in their team. A leader who inspires loyalty recognizes that time away from the office is just as important as time in the office. They respect their team’s time and do not ask employees to work on days off or on vacation unless absolutely necessary. The need for rest and downtime is crucial to productivity.
- Be authentic. A leader who inspires loyalty is not afraid to be open and admit their weakness. They show strength and courage in their humility and vulnerability. Employees cannot relate to or respect a leader who insists they are perfect or comes across as one dimensional. People are loyal to real people with real strengths and real weaknesses.
- Leaders cast vision often. A leader who inspires loyalty continuously reminds their team of their company goals and vision. They take each project and task and track it back to the ways it helps meet these goals. In that way, a leader shows their team that no task is too small or unimportant and that each team member’s contribution is vital to the success of the company as a whole.
- They are invested in their employee’s lives. A leader who inspires loyalty is relationship-driven. They know intimate details about each of their team members. They know the name of their children and significant other. They celebrate milestones in their employee’s lives. They pay attention to birthdays and anniversaries and take time to ask about how time off and vacations went. They see their team members as complete individuals with passions and hobbies and likes and dislikes and they show their employees that who they are inside and outside of work matters.
- Act as a mentor and help their team develop professionally. A leader who inspires loyalty invests in their team. They ask questions about their teams’ goals and desires for personal and professional growth and they work hard to help them achieve those goals. At times, they take a risk and promote or hire an employee with passion and drive rather than an obvious skill set or background. A leader understands that everyone needs to start somewhere. They look for potential and promise and then encourage, challenge, and teach.
- Praise publicly and reprimand privately. A leader who inspires loyalty never reprimands employees in public. They do not attempt to shame or belittle their team for mistakes but use those moments as an opportunity for correction and teaching. On the other hand, a leader who inspires loyalty is quick to praise publicly. They are often heard congratulating their team members for a job well done and thanking them publicly for their efforts. They know that positive reinforcement is a great motivation to complete a task quickly and efficiently. They know the value of a team that goes above and beyond.
- Motivate by encouragement and not by fear. A leader who inspires loyalty does not use fear or intimidation to get a job done. They don’t threaten to fire their teams. They encourage their team and perfect the halftime locker room speech. Odds may be stacked against them, the previous plays may have not worked, but a true leader can rally their team in working harder and more efficiently moving forward. They are a great encourager.
- Shoot straight. A leader who inspires loyalty says what they mean and means what they say. Their team does not have to guess at what their leader is thinking or feeling. They stay away from vague or cryptic messages and cultivate a culture of communication and openness.
- Leaders have fun. A leader who inspires loyalty is fun to be around. They know that not every moment has to be serious and solemn. A leader who embraces after-work happy hours, team building activities, contests, and lighthearted conversation is more likely to be apricated by their team.
Slowly over time, my team began to see the difference in the way I managed them versus the way they had been managed in the past. Under the new direction, they began to flourish. Their sales numbers increased. The company profited. Because the sales team was happier and more productive our reputation in the industry and with our clients improved. By the time I left the company, there was a noticeable difference in both our numbers and morale. That was not the only difference. Instead of the negative comments that been prevalent before I started, my team wrote recommendations on my LinkedIn that included things like “Jamie is everything that you want in a boss” “Jamie is an amazing motivator and is always looking for creative ways to keep our team engaged and excited about this business.” And “I worked for Jamie as a Sales Manager for over 3 years. At that time she helped me in every possible way to grow my career as an event professional. She has an amazing talent for working with people and she taught me so much I cannot even begin to thank her enough.”
Do not underestimate your ability to inspire loyalty in your team or the impact that could have on your company.