Historically, leadership training has adopted the phrase, “There is no I in team.” I certainly agree with the collaborative value of a group, however, the role of the individual is absolutely foundational. Not understanding this fully is a missed opportunity for many businesses and organizations alike.
The importance of the individual, what I call “The Power of One,” is worth examining closely, as it is one of the strongest contributors to the bottom line and ultimately the overall impact of a company. This applies both to the leader and to every member of their team.
A strong leader is one who is in a relationship with herself. She has taken time to know what is important to her and why — her core values. She is very clear about what she needs and wants. As a result, she is secure with herself. To know oneself is to love oneself. People, things and ideas that we love are those which we understand on the most fundamental level. Most of us, unfortunately, have never taken the time to know these things about ourselves. A powerful leader who has clarity, confidence, and a strong sense of self-worth is less driven by her ego and more attuned to her overarching vision. She understands how to leverage the diverse talents of her team in a collaborative way to continually exceed projections.
With a strong sense of self and clarity of vision, a powerful leader will not only be able to lead her leadership team, but also model behavior that will teach team members how to lead others in the organization as well — in other words, train the trainers. This leadership style centered around security in self and mutual respect creates an environment where team members can be vulnerable enough to share new ideas and unique perspectives. The ability to be vulnerable also supports greater connection within the team. In February of 2018, connection was named as one of “Six Fundamental Human Needs We Need To Meet To Live Our Best Lives.” For people, human connection is as essential as food and shelter.
By being able to focus on both the individual needs and the personal growth of team members, while at the same time casting a strong vision for the team’s objectives, a strong leader will be able to grow both the team and the individuals in it. Having this dual focus over time allows teams to mature and become very cohesive. They learn how to work together while feeling highly valued. This leads to further investment and loyalty, which in turn, leads to long-term, highly productive and satisfying employment — a real win-win.
This style of leadership builds a strong corporate culture and dramatically supports a company’s bottom line. What we see as a result is greater instances of innovation, increases in efficiencies based on higher morale and self-confidence and overall decreases in turnover.
Today, the unemployment rate in the United States is at a historic low (3.8%). At the same time, turnover rates are at historic highs (44.3%). It is interesting to note that for the past two years, millennials (those between 23 and 38 years old) represent the largest demographic in the workplace. Out of those workers, 21% have changed their jobs in the past year. What this means for businesses competing for talent, is that they need to up their game.
Turnover costs range from 90%-200% of a team member’s salary. Consider the following costs: training and ramp-up time for replacements, direct exit costs (accrued vacation time, unused sick time, contribution to healthcare coverage, higher unemployment taxes, severance pay), sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, job postings, hiring recruiters, assessment tests, background checks, travel expenses, relocation expenses, not to mention the loss of knowledge of the departing employee and overall loss of morale.
The largest reason employees stay at their jobs is because of the culture where they work. Retention is highest at companies that value relationships with their employees. This is demonstrated by, among other things, relationships with their superiors, opportunities for growth and development, environments of respect, acknowledgment for contributions, opportunities to be mentored, and work/life balance. All of these elements are reflected in corporate cultures that value their employees as individuals and not just members of a team.
Leaders today across all industries must be more aware of who they are and who their team members are while possessing more progressive and engaging leadership skills than ever before.