Fintech: What makes an effective leader in the workplace?

By Myra Khanna, Founder & CEO of SAMA
Myra Khanna, Founder & CEO of SAMA, examines the traits shared by great company leaders and which workplace attributes improve resilience

Leaders in the workplace should care whether their team is thriving - where individuals feel they are active contributors and are growing. A study shows that those employees who have a better sense of well-being and productivity miss fewer days in the office due to stress, and have lower rates of burnout and health problems.

A thriving team is important because it allows for better communication, more creativity, and improved productivity. When team members are working together harmoniously, they can achieve far more than they ever could individually. Additionally, a positive team atmosphere can boost morale and make everyone feel more motivated to do their best work. In the end, a thriving team is more productive.

A huge part of creating a more productive and healthy team environment is establishing strong leadership. However, if you want to be an effective leader, you cannot rely on leadership books or your MBA; the vast majority of the books studied are written by people who have never actually led anything. They also tend to take learnings from past cases that are no longer relevant, and often contain generic advice that is difficult to apply to specific situations.

Current leaders who are effective share some of the practices below. 

Leading with empathy

Employees expectations have changed with the pandemic and Gen Zs entering the workforce. When leaders can put themselves in their employees’ shoes, they are able to better communicate with them and come up with solutions that work for everyone. Additionally, empathy allows leaders to build relationships of trust with their employees, which is essential for creating a positive work atmosphere. This helps create a culture of high work performance.

Create a sense of purpose 

Binding your team members through a common sense of purpose can help them find meaning in their work. Microsoft has found meaningful work to be one of the key components of thriving employees. No one wants to feel like another cog in the machine. When people understand why their work matters and how it fits into the bigger picture, they feel like they are part of something larger and are motivated to do their best work.

Enable ownership and encourage accountability

If the massive rise in the number of participants in the freelance, creator, and gig economies has anything to teach us, it’s that a sense of ownership is more important than ever to employees. No one wants to feel like “just an employee”. Good managers find opportunities to offer autonomy and ownership to team members. Holding your team members accountable is a powerful way to build a sense of ownership. Set clear expectations about the results you want and give them the freedom to achieve their targets in their own ways. It can feel scary for a manager to let go of that sense of control, but when it leads to thriving employees, the effort gives back tenfold. 

Ensure career development and progression

The lack of career development and progression is the #1 reason why people leave their company. An important step to creating a thriving team is to offer generous opportunities for growth and development. A recent LinkedIn report found that 59% of respondents see professional development opportunities as one of the top areas to invest in to improve company culture. Helping your team members learn and grow is a great way to ensure they have the skills to respond to challenges and evolve with changing times.

Bring back the sense of community

Belonging is a basic human need. People who have a sense of community at work are 58% more likely to thrive at work, 55% more engaged, and 66% more likely to stay with their company. There are simple ways you can create opportunities for connection. Dedicate the first few minutes of your team meeting to catching up with each other on non-work-related topics. Organise social activities such as team quizzes and virtual bonding sessions for everyone to get to know each other.

Well-being is just getting started

Employee well-being has historically been an afterthought for most leaders ; only recently have people started to realise the importance of a healthy workplace. In the past, employers focused more on productivity and profits than on the well-being of their employees. However, with the rise of telecommuting and work-from-home arrangements, employers can no longer ignore the issue of employee well-being.

A thriving team is not just about being productive; it's also about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, having positive relationships with co-workers, and feeling like you belong somewhere.

As the world of work changes at a rapid pace, organisations need to be agile and creative. Leaders need to evangelize and align their team behind a shared purpose, one that sees each and every employee feel empowered. It is a collaboration of all, and a workforce not only needs to be productive; they also need to have positive relationships with co-workers and feel like they belong somewhere.


About the author: Myra Khanna is the Founder & CEO of SAMA


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