Heidi Alexandra Pollard explains why managers these days need to become “expander leaders” in order to succeed in business.
It was during working on a campaign while I was Director at WorkCover that I had an epiphany that would stay with me into all my future work and businesses. We ran a marketing campaign called “Homecomings” with the help of creative agency Shannon’s Way – it was all about the need for workers to come home safe from work every day to their family, friends and loved ones. The taglines for the campaign included “Your reason for workplace safety is not at work at all.” “Work safe. Home safe.”
These tag lines really struck a chord with our market research test audiences as well as our staff before we even launched the campaign. What really hit home for me how much we entrust the lives of our loved ones into the hands of their employers every day they go to work. The campaign footage showed a young boy waiting for his father to come home, two teenagers who barely acknowledge their dad but their dog getting excited to see him and other various “coming home” scenes.
My powerful epiphany was how every worker in every workplace is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s mother or father, brother, sister, husband or wife, partner or best friend. Here in Western society we all believe that it’s our fundamental right to work in a safe and healthy workplace and that each day we should be able to go home from work as healthy – both physically and psychologically – as we did when we left in the morning.
Which means the leaders of every company and team are trusted to act like a pseudo parent in their employees extended work family. I believe it is imperative that leaders come from a place of love and genuine care about the wellbeing of the precious lives under their care and supervision, and not just because of some legislation. Those who take up this duty and choose to serve their workers as an extended family, not hired labour or resources to be used, will create stable innovative, high performing, loyal teams over the long term. Sadly few managers and leaders take it this seriously, or have really considered the entrusted role they hold.
Therefore, what we need is to build more organisations that prioritise the physical, social, emotional and psychological wellbeing of their workers so we can build happy and healthy families and communities.
What is an “expander leader”?
A leader who stops beating themselves and their people up, for not being perfect. Expander leaders embrace imperfection and capitalise on the unique and quirky characteristics that every individual can bring to the table. Expander leaders will advance your organisation to create more leaders who in turn grow, flourish and are more likely to serve and become Expander Leaders themselves.
The raw truth is that an organisations’ success is based on leadership excellence rather than management acumen. Many organisations give lip service to the concept of their people being their most important resource. What is needed are more Expander Leaders who truly see their people for the unique individuals they are and truly care about those entrusted to their care. After all, there is no one perfect way to build a great culture or team or business and there is no best structure, framework or performance management system. The reason Expander Leaders are so effective is because they:
- Are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses.
- Are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know.
- Are the ones who can’t do it all; they are the ones who look to others to help them.
- Are the ones who don’t try to be perfect, they try to be themselves.
When we become the architects of our company cultures rather than passive participants, we can create workplaces where people are grateful for the opportunity to volunteer their best work every day. To create this takes a series of small, incremental changes and conscious moves, not a single pill.
I believe that when we consciously, deliberately and intentionally choose to design our workplace cultures using the principles of Expander Leadership, love and recognising the UQ (unique strengths) in every individual we unleash human potential. I invite you to join the movement and #startwithU.
To find out more about #startwithU and how to lead during a downturn, watch Heidi’s video.
Article by Heidi Alexandra Pollard for WNiF.