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  • Alicia Phan

How Leadership Affects Ways of Working

Leader standing out

The leader of a team or organisation sets the tone for the group. It is helpful for leaders to clarify the group’s purpose and promote autonomy to figure out how to accomplish it. Furthermore, role modelling the ways of working demonstrates learning and practising. Creating an environment of curiosity and learning through psychological safety is foundational for working towards the purpose. Overall, these three patterns of leadership are interconnected and can increase efficiency and productivity. Great leaders focus on how their employees are impacted by the company’s ways of working. Ways of working is HOW individuals on a team collaborate to happily and successfully reach a common goal. Leaders can positively affect ways teams work with many different methods in order to enhance performance and create social good.

"Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves" - Daniel H. Pink, Drive

Finding meaning in what the company is doing can intrinsically motivate and inspire employees. Everyone can build a connection and create a sense of community around a purpose that allows multiple different people working on various projects to come together and coordinate to achieve a common goal. Having a clear mission statement that is enforced in the organisation can unite everyone at all levels. Our mission statement, for example, is “to enable organisations to achieve better outcomes and a more humane world of work.” An organisation’s purpose will remind employees how they are a fundamental piece of a bigger puzzle.

“Go see, ask why, show respect” - Fuji Cho, Honorary Chairman of Toyota

In order to lead in an organisation, it helps to understand all aspects of how it works. Servant leaders can find opportunities to learn from all employees about their work and objectives, which will demonstrate passion for the job. Sometimes slowing down and learning about the team and their work can be beneficial for fostering a collaborative and creative environment, instead of focusing on fast-paced outputs. Toyota leaders spend at least 20% of their time going on daily Gemba walks, where they wander, observe, ask questions, and sometimes joke. “Gemba” means “site” or “scene” in Japanese, so Gemba walks allow leaders to take in their surroundings and understand what is happening in all areas in order to support and solve problems.

“In short, psychological safety is a crucial source of value creation in organisations operating in a complex, changing environment.” ― Amy C. Edmondson, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth

A positive workplace culture will motivate employees and create a more productive, resilient, and responsive workforce. Caring for employee well-being and satisfying their drives maintains energy and improves psychological safety. A culture that focuses on opportunities rather than stress and fear of risks will prevent the team from becoming stagnant. For example, encouraging team members to ask powerful questions and responding with transparency along with empathy can nurture a learning environment that intentionally promotes curiosity and confidence. Overall, taking care of the team will empower them to take care of the group’s mission and goal.

Those who lead as an orchestrator or facilitator are able to energise and connect with a team of diverse individuals with varying skill sets more effectively and efficiently than an authoritative leader who focuses on technicalities. The first step to becoming a leader who encourages healthy ways of working is to take a look around, analyse how work is managed, and reinforce strengths and remodel weaknesses in a team.

by Alicia Phan, 21/03/23


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