Taking heart in good business leadership - Nicola Barclay

Every day it feels like there’s another article about the challenges for employers and employees navigating hybrid working against the backdrop of unemployment at ita lowest since 1974, as well as a record number of workers dropping out of the jobs market altogether.

It's fair to say that recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges facing business owners and leaders just now. None of this will come as any surprise to any organisation which has been trying to fill posts recently.

So how can you make sure that your company attracts a good calibre of applicants, and then keeps hold of them? If we boil it down, a company is really just the sum of its parts – and those parts are people. Regardless of whether you make and sell the proverbial widgets or are in another line of business, the chances are your people are what makes you successful (or not). And how leaders show up determines how much their people want to work, and continue working for them. Do not under-estimate the power of the energy that the leader brings into a room.

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I hope we can all agree that the days of command-and-control style leadership are largely behind us, but if you are a leader and were asked to describe your leadership style, what would you say? Are you authentic? Do you care about your staff? Are you interested in their opinions? Do you trust them to take responsibility for their actions? And importantly, how would your employees answer these questions?

Nicola Barclay is Managing Director of Athena Leadership Coaching and Consulting
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In the words of Brené Brown, author of the New York Times Bestseller, ‘Dare to Lead’: “Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behaviour”.

What shape will your business be in in one-, three- or five-years’ time and will you have the same team around you? If you want your team to stay and help achieve your goals, you need to actively demonstrate how important they are to you. Pay rises will go part of the way, but demonstrating that you want your people to continue to thrive within your company needs more. Investing in good quality training and development as well as nurturing the next generation of leaders will always be important. In this competitive marketplace for talent this becomes essential if you want to retain your existing team. Challenging and stimulating your people to continue to grow and learn is another key element to engaging and retaining your best talent. Succession planning and sharing your thoughts with staff also demonstrates how much you value and trust them as people.

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But it’s not just about the employees: leaders also need support and an investment in external guidance can benefit the whole organisation. The last few years have been challenging for us all, but especially for leaders who have had to make some really tough decisions. Speaking to someone with an impartial and objective view can help get things in perspective. If you have the resources, a confidential leadership coach can give you the space and the opportunity to explore ideas and consider all the options without judgement. Being challenged by someone not personally invested in the business can be really valuable and insightful.

In the words of Dame Minouche Shafik, the Director of the London School of Economics, “In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.” Make sure yours is in good shape for the challenges to come.

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Nicola Barclay is Managing Director of Athena Leadership Coaching and Consulting

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