A Life Lesson in Leadership

By Sue Winkler, Director of Client HR Services

Building off our articles published this winter on supporting and engaging the management team, where to start investing in employee engagement, and helping employees feel valued, this article will focus on another driving principle of employee engagement  – leading by example.

A Life Lesson in Leadership

Successful leaders positively impact their employees by modeling their company’s core values. However, many haven’t given much thought to what those core values are or how they can impact culture. But taking the time to embrace the concept of core values and committing to modelling them will benefit both your company and your employees.

Determining Core Values  

You can learn so much from those around you. Think about situations and people that have impressed you. Mentors show up in a variety of ways and may not always be recognized as such. But we are all influenced by those around us, sometimes in remarkable ways. What words and actions come to mind when considering the leaders you’ve worked with?  My own were influenced by someone who taught me countless lessons in leadership, and while core values don’t come as an objective list, here are the qualities I admired in my own mentor and strive to model on a daily basis.

Integrity   Integrity is a demonstration and consistent application of your values. Integrity shows itself in honesty, authenticity and keeping promises. It’s where trust begins. Integrity consistently tops the list of leadership traits employees and employers search for.

As a leader, integrity begins by viewing your leadership role as a privilege and an obligation to hold yourself to a higher standard. Moreover, it means asking your employees to take the high road; to do what’s right even if it’s the harder path. But leading with integrity doesn’t mean being disappointed in or judging others. Leading with integrity is a journey of experiences, and sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you don’t.

Grace   Grace is showing respect, rejoicing in other’s success, encouraging greatness and demonstrating a willingness to provide support to employees to positively move past bumps in the road. Remember that no one is perfect. Mistakes will happen. Your response and reaction to those moments is what defines a great leader. As stated in previous articles, employees want to feel valued. When leaders can constructively handle a mistake and show grace, it provides an incredible opportunity to show someone they are more than their one action.

Compassion   Compassion starts with knowing your team. Giving time to those who work for and around you will pay dividends. Survey after survey confirms that a leader’s ability to build relationships just may be the most critical element of all, so, make time to intentionally listen to others. One means used by CEOs is a Listening Tour. Essentially this involves spending time listening to employees in small group settings. This is the stay interview on steroids. Being visible as a leader and educating yourself on how employees are doing provides connectivity that is often forgotten about, especially in remote or hybrid workplaces. Leaders who listen and demonstrate a genuine care and concern for others will see the results in increased loyalty, productivity, engagement and innovation.

Grit   Grit gives a leader the ability to persevere, to be resilient and to overcome challenges. It powers leaders through failure and puts roadblocks in the rearview mirror. It draws on passion and tenacity. And its force is often unnoticed by those around us, although the results can be powerful. Grit is a predictor of success in many demanding jobs and often propels people to leadership roles. In fact, multiple studies have shown that grit is a critical factor for successful leadership.

 Your Company’s Core Values

None of the qualities discussed in this article are new when talking about great leaders. They are traits revealed by countless studies. But until you build your values into your personal leadership style, they will only be words on paper. My hope is that you will take time to think about the leaders that have had a positive impact on your life and learn from those traits. You have a choice in how you lead others and learning from the best will get you closer to the ranks of leaders who will be long remembered.

I saw a quote when writing this article that sums up what I believe it means to be a great leader.

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” 

Compliance Corner

Effective January 1, 2022, Illinois revised the state requirements for employer-offered retirement savings programs. The law now requires employers to offer either their own retirement program or the state-sponsored retirement program if they have at least five employees in the state during every quarter of the previous calendar year. Previously, employers with fewer than 25 employees were exempt from this requirement.

California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington have similar requirements already in place. Colorado, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia and Vermont have implementation scheduled for 2022/2023.

We can help if you have any questions on these requirements or want to explore setting up a retirement plan.

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