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What Does It Take To Be A Leader In The New Economy? By Lynnaire Johnston To be successful in the new economy – a recessionary one – requires a new way of doing business. Central to this is effective communication. The era of top-down leadership, supported by standard processes and systems, is over. Today’s business leaders recognise the changes brought about by technology and actively embrace it, creating a high trust culture. This allows employees to carry out online engagement in a way that is meaningful and effective. The head of workplace survey provider, Kenexa|JRA, Sanchia Yonge, says leadership is being demonstrated in today’s tough business environment through communication and collaboration. This includes allowing employees to be part of the decisionmaking process. The best leaders empower their employees, she explains. “They set a vision for their team members to get behind and they empower employees who fully understand the end goal. Leaders communicate and demonstrate the organisation’s greater purpose. For example, AA Insurance has seen the disaster in Christchurch test the strength of its culture. Employees worked above and beyond their normal tasks, with enormous increases in levels of employee engagement.” Management consultancy PH Factor director, Pleasance Hansen, believes the best leaders and CEOs have a rare combination of humility and ability to listen. “They are not afraid to give direction but are open to others’ ideas and engage staff. They also demonstrate strong people skills.” From her own consultancy experience, she believes one of the greatest skills leaders need to master is the willingness to have ‘courageous conversations’. By this she means first being honest with yourself about what is happening within the organisation. And then talking openly with team members whose behaviours are contrary to the organisation’s core values and are causing problems. An example of this is bullying. Pleasance Hansen says it is important to make time for people. “Put it in the diary and get out and be seen, greet people and be the human face of the organisation. People then start to feel they matter, they are more productive and have the organisation’s best interests at heart.” Communication then is at the heart or the top of every successful business. Without it staff don't feel heard, they don't feel understood and they don't care as much about the company's success. Lack of staff engagement is a critical problem for many companies, inevitably adversely affecting their performance, yet it is one that can be overcome by adopting hightouch levels of communicating from the top down. Lynnaire Johnston is wordsmith-in-chief of Word Wizard, a New Zealandbased communications consultancy. The company produces information products for small businesses and offers copywriting, marketing and public relations services. Visit www.wordwizard.co.nz or facebook.com/wordwizard for more information. © Word Wizard 2012


What does it take to be a leader in the new economy?