As spring approaches and the first quarter of 2017 draws to a close, former chairman of Microsoft Europe Jan Mühlfeit is urging businesses to take time to reflect and combat problem areas as the fast-pace working world continues to shift and change.
Sentiment across the business world seems to show a move away from employer interest in vocational and IT skills, as many bosses are concerned that younger workers are lacking basic ‘soft skills’ such as work ethic, attitude and emotional intelligence. As more and more work systems become automated, companies need to focus more on the qualities that computers can’t replicate to stand out among the machines.
Mühlfeit believes that through reflection and self-awareness, a boss can lead both themselves and their team to their full potential, discovering their ‘true authenticity’, the secret ingredient to winning over a customer’s trust and respect. Admitting that awareness of the industry as a whole is certainly important in order to make a business adequately function, without looking within your company, it’s easier to get overwhelmed and lose your way.
The strategist’s new book The Positive Leader includes a four-point plan to become a happier and more inspirational leader in order to drive the change you want to see in the workplace. The plan details the key areas most leaders need to focus on avoiding if they want to excel.
- Target strengths, not weaknesses – leaders waste valuable, even vital time and money grappling with faults and failures instead of focussing on what is working and recognising people’s talents. Making use of someone’s natural talent instead of letterboxing them to something that isn’t working will lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement where teams could be achieving much more.
- Have a dream – Leaders must exhibit a clear and inspirational vision to encourage a unified direction. People naturally relate more to a clear purpose, and will become much easier to rally together for one goal than a mess of confused ideas. Employees don’t just want any old job when they can be offered meaning and a chance to contribute to a bigger-picture concept.
- Manage energy, not time – Leaders will often face an unending stream of demands, cramming their diaries to maximise their time, but in the process they’re diluting their focus and abusing their energy, according to Mühlfeit, who believes doing so will send bosses straight into a burnout.
- Don’t put success before happiness – Leaders run the risk of ignoring deeper connections and meaningful activities if they become too focussed on ‘material trappings’, or focus on money and figures regardless of the happiness of themselves and the people around them.
By knowing who you are and understanding the impact your decisions can have on others is a major step in the right direction, according to Jan Mühlfeit, whose book claims that the more open and empathetic you are as an individual, the more you will be able to interact with your colleagues without compromising your core character.
If you are interested in reading more, The Positive Leader: How Energy and Happiness Fuel Top-Performing Teams is out now, and if there are any other key factors bosses should address, you can tweet us @PALifeMag