‘Quiet quitting’ has been a buzzword in the corporate world recently – staff members are taking back their personal lives by setting boundaries on how much extra effort they put into their work. This has sparked many conversations as to why employees felt the need to quietly quit in the first place, and one such reason may be due to the rise of ‘quiet firing’.

The second phrase to be logged in the ‘quiet –’ saga, quiet firing shifts the focus to a managerial perspective, and refers to those leaders who are assigning some members of staff menial tasks, setting unrealistic expectations, and consistently denying them time off work. Essentially, instead of communicating with these employees to help them improve, they are quietly pushing them away until they finally decide to leave of their own accord.

While some leaders may be doing this consciously, this new phenomenon does bring into question whether managers who are being inattentive are at risk of unknowingly quietly firing their staff.

Being in a leadership role means you may not have a lot of time to spare, but a crucial part of being a manager is finding a balance between being attentive to those above and below you. Members of your team may feel they are being neglected due to a lack of direct engagement with them, and this can be perceived as quiet firing and can push people towards leaving. This is reinforced by Gallup’s report which found that 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. In other words, a manager has the largest effect on how engaged their employees are at work.

This highlights the importance of finding that time to offer clear and consistent feedback. Leaders who are essentially giving up on those workers who they deem as underperforming, instead of taking the time to tell them how to improve, are failing their staff.

Underperformance is a sign to managers that they are not being as attentive as necessary. The relationship between leader and worker needs to be nourished, and this nourishment comes from communication – through the implementation of a regular feedback session – and from clarity, as only about half of workers actually know what is expected of them.

Communication and clarity are especially important with the rise of hybrid and remote working models. Research shows that employees working from home often receive less performance feedback for their good work than those in the office, and this can be simply due to the fact that remote working removes the chance of bumping into one another. Gone are the days of grabbing someone for a quick chat or catching up by the water cooler. All these little opportunities for micro-feedback sessions are much harder to achieve through Zoom or Teams, as now, a formal effort has to be made to speak to colleagues.

Implementing ways of giving regular feedback to employees who work remotely will help mitigate the risk of quietly firing staff. On top of this, it helps enhance your culture – in the office and digitally – to be open and approachable, which can ultimately better staff engagement and improve the quality and quantity of their output.

If you need guidance on how to avoid falling into the trap of quiet firing, you can get in touch with us here.

The ability to be adaptable is becoming gold amongst leaders in the contemporary corporate world. A post-pandemic perspective has seen working life in a continuous state of flux, and if leaders want to stay on top of these shifting conditions, then they need to consider adopting a new, flexible management style.

One struggle that leaders may come across is the generational differences they face with their staff. Most people in leadership positions tend to be in their midlife, with statista finding that the average age of CEOs and CFOs in America was 54.1 and 48.9. Now, with Gen Z filtering into the workforce, along with them comes a new set of values that will likely differ to those in leadership positions. The recent ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon is a prime example of this.

In order to overcome these potential barriers, leaders should start practicing a more adaptable approach to how they manage their people. This will allow them to create a common language to communicate with their younger staff so that they can respond to the needs of these employees more effectively and optimize their talent.

The Centre for Creative Leadership outlines three components of flexibility that leaders should incorporate to help them seize every opportunity:

  1. Cognitive Flexibility

This is about using different thinking methods to be able to approach each problem from the best angle. Embedding these varying strategies and frameworks into their planning and decision-making will allow them to recognise when a change is needed. Leaders who are flexible and open with the way they think will be able to recognize new trends in the workplace and respond to them promptly.

  • Emotional Flexibility

Leaders who are empathetic towards periods of transition will be the most prepared to guide their staff through change, as well as manage their own potential feelings of angst and resistance. In this sense, those that are willing to show their own vulnerabilities can make their staff more willing to express theirs, and this leads to an open and honest culture in the workplace which allows for proper support through a transitional period.

  • Dispositional Flexibility

This concerns finding an equilibrium between being blindly positive and pessimistic. These leaders take on an optimistic perspective that is grounded in realism, and can acknowledge when a situation is bad but look ahead to how to make it better for the future. These leaders have a mindset which allows them to view change as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Leaders who are using all three of these components will be able to interact with change as and when it comes. And with a workforce who have emerged from lockdown with new perspectives on what it means to work , as well as an entirely new hybrid working model, learning to respond to change swiftly and effectively will allow leaders to excel, while also propelling their people and their company forwards.

To discuss these flexible leadership strategies further, you can contact me at stephanie.rodriguez@orgshakers.com

It is no secret that the workforce is changing, and with these changes comes a sharper focus on attraction and retention strategies. But between flexible working schedules and varying benefit schemes, employers are overlooking a key process that can help optimize their ability to secure the talent they have – management training.

Managers play a vital role in the creation of a positive workplace culture and engaging with employee concerns. They are the ‘connecting leaders’ for helping to build relationships between those at the top and bottom of the hierarchy. Ensuring that they are properly equipped to take on this role can help an organization thrive, as many potential problems can be avoided by strengthening the company at its managerial roots.

To begin with, leaders need to know how to go beyond the words of their company’s mission statement. While having a clear statement is excellent for highlighting what the business’s aims and values are, they need to be put into practice. Managers must know how to demonstrate these principles in their approaches and enact them in real-time to increase the trust staff place in them. By building this trust, organizations are more likely to increase retention rates, which can also reflect positively on their reputation when recruiting future staff.

Secondly, there is now an expectation for managers to have more personal and tailored relationships with employees. The rise of a carpe diem ideology post-pandemic has resulted in people wanting to make every day count by finding purpose in their work. Leaders have to be properly equipped with contemporary strategies to help remind them of this purpose in order to sustain engagement levels.

The needs of the workforce have shifted since the pandemic, and managers will require a refreshed set of training to keep up with this. By doing so, they mitigate the risk of employees quitting due to uncaring and uninspiring leaders, which was the third highest reason (34%) for people leaving their job according to a study by McKinsey.

Additionally, there also needs to be a focus on the retention of managers themselves. The CEB conducted research which found that 60% of all new managers fail within their first 24 months – and the main reason cited for this was a lack of proper training. Leadership roles come with a lot of responsibility, and so companies that prioritise giving their new managers the right tools and skills will help them seize all that the opportunity has to offer.

It is a chain reaction. Equip managers on how to engage with their people properly and they will avoid falling into the twenty-four-month trap. And having a good manager leads to a workforce who are engaged because they feel understood by their leader(s). Culture matters, and having a positive one focused on developing people, including mangers, will benefit colleagues and businesses.

Avoidance of legal issues is the final benefit. With the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set to become firmer when filing discrimination cases against employers and overall trends in filing of claims, having managers who can correctly engage with employee concerns is more crucial than ever. Leaders who are perceived as approachable will be trusted with queries, and this helps avoid the use of third-party channels like the EEOC.

Navigating the heightened sensitivity that has developed post-pandemic is a delicate thing, and so requires a refreshed and expert approach. Having successfully worked with clients to build programmes that can identify and mitigate these issues, we see positive results in productivity, culture and risk management. Investing in managers is worth the expense.

Have you ever heard the phrase “quiet leaders”? This is a leadership style whose description may seem much more familiar than its name.  Quiet leaders can be described as “managers who apply modesty, restraint, and tenacity to solve particularly difficult problems.” (Lagace, M.) 

Badaracco (2003) explains, “Everyday work life is full of right-versus-right decisions. In fact, it sometimes seems that these hard trade-offs are delegated downward from bosses to people in the middle of organizations. In these cases, it does little good to tell people to screw up their courage and do the right thing. The essence of the problem is that several right things—obligations to owners, employees, communities and one’s own values—are clashing with each other. Quiet leaders also recognize the full complexity and uncertainty that govern so much of life and work today.”  He goes on to offer five basic guidelines for quiet leaders: 

Five Basic Guidelines 

  1. Don’t Kid Yourself – “…make plenty of room for the unexpected.” 
  2. Have Some Skin in the Game – “…look for ways to channel self-interest in ways that also serve others.”  
  3. Buy Time – “Time gives people a chance to assess their real obligations and gives sound instincts a chance to emerge.” 
  4. Drill Down – “…into the full complexities of the problem…” 
  5. Bend the Rules and Look for Compromises – “Responsible behaviour in some difficult situations requires a little wiggle room.” 

How does the concept of the quiet leader spark your thoughts about leadership?  Is this a style that describes you or a leader you work with?  Is it a style you find appealing? 

Taking a moment to explore different or unfamiliar leadership styles can be a great way to learn and grow as a leader. It can also be a way to reenergize a leadership journey.

If you would like guidance on how to become a quiet leader, get in touch with us here.

Now that you have been introduced to what life as a first-time CEO has in store, here are three recommendations for emerging CEOs:

  1. Build, develop and lead through your leadership team

Building their leadership team has always been an important part of the CEO job; but the composition and purpose of this team is changing as businesses themselves take on a wider understanding of their purpose.

Traditionally a CEO’s goal was to develop a “high performing team,” in which each member was responsible for a different function that created value for investors and customers. But thanks to a growing emphasis on Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) considerations, today’s leadership team must now serve a wider caste of stakeholders than its predecessors. Employees, for example, are now considered primary and equal stakeholders to investors and customers. Similarly, many investors are now evaluating companies based on their social and environmental relationships with the communities in which they operate.

As a result, modern CEOs need to build “high value creating” teams, in which success is measured by the team’s ability to create simultaneous value for a broad array of stakeholders. A side effect of this widened imperative is that success is no longer measured by looking at how individual members of the leadership team execute their individual functions. Instead, a successful leadership team has to work interactively, across functions, to ensure that it represent the interests of (and creates value for) all stakeholders.

For first-time or new CEOs, building a value-creating leadership team—and making sure that you get the right people on it—is crucial to your ability to focus broadly across the needs of the organization and to increase value by steering company purpose and culture. But it is not easy to do. A Systemic Leadership Team coach can be invaluable in helping the CEO build, lead and motivate the perfect team.

  1. Build informal relationships with individual board members

The board can be an excellent source of guidance for CEOs, and newly appointed CEOs should go out of their way to build informal relationships with individual board members who can provide the advice, feedback, and support that CEOs often fail to receive from other members of their organizations.

But building these relationships can be harder than it sounds. Your board members, after all, do not work in the office down the hall; they may not even live in the same country. This is why close relationships between CEOs and board members rarely just fall into place like they often do between CEOs and key members of the leadership team. Instead, building relationships with board members often requires conscious effort. New CEOs will need to go out of their way to creatively engage their directors on a regular basis outside of the formal strictures of the boardroom.

  1. Work with a coach

Executive coaches are an excellent resource for first-time CEOs. As neutral third-party observers, coaches provide the kind of constructive feedback and skills training that CEOs, as bosses, often struggle to get from their team members. They also help CEOs improve their skills in conflict management, responsibility delegation, time management, and listening—all of which are necessary for new CEOs to successfully adapt to the role.

The purpose of executive coaching is to increase performance by improving emotional intelligence, which leads to a more empathic and self-aware leader. Even the best CEOs can get better at their jobs. Some of the most influential CEOs in the last decades—Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt among them—have benefited tremendously from executive coaching.

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The CEO job can be one of the most rewarding jobs in business. It is also unquestionably one of the most difficult. Incoming first-time CEOs should expect the role to bring a variety of changes to their lives, most of them positive, some of them negative, others downright confusing. By surrounding yourself with trusted advisors, by consulting mentors, and by hiring a coach, both new and seasoned CEOs can minimize their isolation and get the feedback they need for success.

If you are reading this, chances are you have encountered articles telling you that a good chief executive officer (CEO) needs to be a decisive, results-oriented leader who can simultaneously articulate a strategic vision for the company, embody its culture and values, and represent it to outside entities—all while driving growth.

You probably also know that CEOs walk a tightrope between the often-contradictory imperatives of their job. They must be optimistic, capable of seeing opportunities wherever they look, and at the same time be capable of assessing the risks that lie beneath those opportunities. They must be great listeners and team-builders, able to synthesize information and opinions from a variety of sources; but they must also be decisive, willing to make decisions without consensus in moments of informational uncertainty.

The CEO position is comprised of psychological and emotional complexities; knowing what a CEO does and knowing how being a CEO feels are very different, and making the leap to the lead executive chair is one of the single most challenging job changes of most CEOs’ careers.

So, here are eight things you should know when making the transition:

  1. Being boss-less is not all fun and games

Most first-time CEOs come to the role after decades of hard work—decades during which they had peers with whom they could informally trade feedback and superiors to whom they could refer certain hard-to-make decisions. The fact that CEOs have neither bosses nor peers within the company constitutes a real and drastic change, one that requires adjustment and often drives the social isolation, lack of feedback, and fear of decisiveness that first-time CEOs frequently experience.

  1. Responsibility can be isolating and painful

Almost by definition, when you have boss, you also have someone to whom you can defer responsibility for the most consequential or challenging decisions. But when you are the CEO, you are that boss. For many executives, this is something they have longed for: the moment when they get to give orders without having to run them by someone else. But with this authority comes an intense emotional burden: suddenly you are the person making decisions—often based on limited information—that can have serious ramifications for the company’s health and the quality of your people’s lives. Indeed, at times you will have to choose between those exact things. Even experienced CEOs can find the weight of authority incredibly taxing, especially in times of crisis.

  1. People will treat you differently

CEOs hold an almost reverential position in many companies. There are several explanations for this fact, but one of them is that it is the simple consequence of power disparity. If you are an employee, the CEO of your company is not just in charge of what you do at your job every day, they are in charge of whether you have your job at all. And this fact understandably influences the ways in which employees interpret and behave around their CEO.

  1. People will do what you say

One by-product of your authority as a CEO is that what you say—and how you look when you say it—matters more than it did earlier in your career. For this reason, experienced CEOs are often quite careful when they speak; they know that even a spur-of-the-moment idea or opinion can, if voiced, have lasting impacts on the company’s culture, behavior, and reputation. As a new CEO, you can’t bounce ideas off just anyone. You can’t have emotional reactions around just anyone. You must calculate the potential interpretations and ramifications of every idea and opinion before you voice them.

  1. People will act as you act

As the CEO, you embody—whether you intend to or not—the culture you want to see in your company. The way you speak, the way you comport yourself, the kinds of financial decisions you make on and off the job—all of these things send a message to the people who work for you. You may be astonished to learn, as a new CEO, that your employees talk about the model of car you drive and how much you paid for your house. But they will; and they’ll infer things about you and your values from that information.

Culturally speaking, CEOs need to understand (and leverage) the fact that their behavior has a symbolic dimension. Getting rid of corporate jets, for example, may have a tiny impact on the bottom line in the greater scheme of things, but it can go a long way in revising the tone of the company’s culture.

  1. You are the external face of the company

Your own employees are not the only ones hanging on your every word and deed. As most first-time CEOs know, chief executives spend a significant amount of time and energy representing the company to the public—that is, to the media, to investors, and to stakeholder communities. But it is important to note that as the CEO, you are always serving in this capacity. Your life is now a symbol for something larger, and there are certain penalties that come with being a symbol. You give up a significant amount of anonymity, for example, and you give up certain freedoms that come with that anonymity. For some new CEOs and their families, this takes some getting used to.

  1. You are overseeing something that pre-exists you

If you are coming into the company as a CEO, you are inheriting years, even decades, of relationships, precedents, expectations, and practices—many of which will never be described to you.

  1. You will not have total control over your success and failure

Our culture tends to credit an organization’s successes and failures to the person in charge. If the company performs well, the CEO is applauded. If it stumbles, the CEO is blamed. But factors beyond the CEO’s control can dictate both successes and failures. As a CEO, you will be blamed for things that you feel like you had no control over, things you feel like you inherited, just as you’ll be applauded for successes that may not be directly linked to your actions. Either way, you must understand that the core responsibility of your job is to focus on creating value in the space between these extremes.

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