Being a leader is challenging for many reasons, but leadership at a high level can be particularly difficult due to the isolation and stress of the position. People in executive positions might find themselves losing touch with their direct reports and the average person in their company and when that happens, it can be difficult to ground yourself again.
Here are four ways that executives can ground themselves and get back in touch with their employees and themselves.
Host Skip-Level Meetings
A skip-level meeting is when an employee meets with their manager’s boss or even some higher up in the organization. This doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be!) considered a negative thing; organizations that only use these types of meetings for performance feedback or official complaints are missing out on the benefits.
One of the best things about a skip-level meeting is that it increases visibility and trust within your team. Executive level leaders can often be perceived as aloof or unapproachable by most of their employees due to lack of availability or just lack of face-to-face communication.
If your team only sees you during the company-wide staff meeting and official communications, how are they supposed to get to know you? On the other side, how are you supposed to truly empathize and understand these workers without taking time to listen to them directly and consider their points of view?
Open up your schedule for a simple coffee break with your team, or get into the nitty-gritty of the latest project they’re working on! Make these meetings about them and be clear; it’s their time with you to spend how they please. You are there to listen and learn from them! This will increase trust and help you get grounded in the day-to-day realities of the company.
Appreciate Your Team
According to LinkedIn, 79% of people quit their job due to a lack of appreciation. That’s an incredibly high number for something that can easily be avoided!
Make sure to build positive feedback into your company at every level and participate in whatever looks like. Is there a ‘recognition’ channel on your company’s Slack where employees can give one another kudos? Make sure you are a frequent poster! Encourage managers to call out great work at the beginning of their team meetings and do the same in yours. In company-wide meetings, use the details you learned from the previously discussed one-on-one conversations to give direct praise to work well done.
This frequent modeling of appreciative behavior from you will encourage your team to do the same. It will also improve company culture across the board and create a stronger culture of collaboration in teams!
Utilize a Mentor
When you get higher and higher in an organization, it can become more and more difficult for you to get honest feedback. Depending on how high you are on the corporate ladder, you might not have anyone who can comfortably tell you ‘no’. If that’s the case, you have some improvements to make in your company culture at large but in the meantime, a productive next step is to find a mentor.
Working with a mentor is a great way to stay grounded! By harnessing the power of their previous experience, you can avoid making avertible mistakes and keep yourself on track.
The mentoring process can also be especially helpful if you have a different behavioral style than your mentor. “This kind of relationship will mutually benefit both you and your mentor,” we shared. “Working to understand the perspective of someone you work closely with but don’t naturally align with is not easy, but it is rewarding and creates a dynamic environment to learn from one another. It helps you gain a perspective you might not have understood before.”
Work on EQ
Finally, something important that all leaders should be doing is working on developing their emotional intelligence (EQ). Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power of acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity.
96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention, according to Forbes. The same source says, "While 92% of CEOs feel their organization is empathetic, only 50% of their employees say their CEO is empathetic.”
Working on developing your EQ is crucial to being a successful leader. It will help you show your team that you are dedicated to improving yourself and will help you manage conflict more successfully.
Moving Forward As a Grounded Executive Leader
Being an executive leader can be difficult but it can also be incredibly rewarding! Make sure that you are staying grounded as you shape the future of your company by connecting with your team, developing your emotional intelligence, utilizing a mentor, and appreciating your employees. These steps will help you grow as you grow your organization.
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