A leader is best when people barely know he exists …When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu, Philosopher
Leadership requires a healthy dose of letting go, a skill highly regarded in adages from a wide range of traditions. A true leader knows that he cannot do it all himself. In fact, it is his or her calling to use trust, guidance and inspiration to empower others to do it on their own.
In this talent-ripe economic atmosphere, it is easier than ever to attract employees with ingenuity and expertise. But the keyword here is attract—without the big money, there must be other incentives motivating your team to go above and beyond. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to do that, even on a shoestring budget.
When it comes to the success of your company, talent is everything. But today’s limited employment options don’t guarantee a motivated, outperforming team. As a leader, you create the conditions conducive to workplace happiness, thus empowering your employees with the ambition to bring your business out ahead of the pack.
Here are a few non-monetary incentives that can help create an environment that encourages loyalty and commitment in your team:
Flexibility: In a world where our earthly reality and cyberspace parallel one another in a complex mutual relationship, there is often very little downside to offering opportunities for employees to work from home or be flexible with their hours. The important thing is productivity, not time-logged or work location. Nurturing a parent- and human being-friendly and respectful environment for those with kids or other personal obligations can make all the difference in the world when it comes to attracting new genius or keeping the quality assets you currently have.
Advanced Technology: Speaking of flexibility, technology is what makes that openness a viable alternative to traditional workplace rigidity. Cloud systems, for example, allow easy work access to employees, whether they’re in the office, at home, or halfway across the globe. And Skype sessions are something to be considered, especially given today’s generational disdain for traditional meetings.
And beyond the major benefit of increased flexibility, new technologies also bolster productivity and employee satisfaction, offering them new challenges and skills and cutting down on wasted time. When you eliminate the burden of outdated technology, you allow your employees to focus on the big picture with more clarity, energy and efficiency. And you are then given the freedom to lead from a distance, increasing autonomy and agency in your team.
Collaboration: Leadership is not only about vision; it is just as much about listening and requires the realization that you do not know everything. A true leader recognizes that his position doesn’t negate the fact that his employees are capable, creative minds with something very significant to offer.
Once a team knows that they can be innovative and be heard, the entire game changes. A sense of ownership and a powerful feeling of motivation is felt with each encouraged idea and every validated perspective.
Don’t forget that keeping up with current federal and state policies is a key part of the equation. This week, for example, democrats in the senate are working on a bill that would offer tax breaks to small businesses that are hiring new employees or who decide to increase pay for existing staff—incentivizing your incentives! Today’s leader must maintain competitiveness by staying informed, asking the right questions and constantly seeking new knowledge.
As a leader, ask yourself how you can streamline processes and offer incentives to make your role more open, understanding, inspirational—even fun. Get creative, broaden your mind and rethink your boundaries. The future presents itself in each new second: embrace it and innovate, or stagnate. It’s your choice.
Join us every other Thursday to get tips and insights on successful leadership and management from dynamic MZM Construction CEO, Marjorie Perry, at BlackEnterprise.com.
Marjorie Perry is president and CEO of Newark, N.J.-based MZM Construction & Management Co. She has earned numerous honors, including being named one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs in New Jersey and the SBA’s New Jersey Businessperson of the Year. She is also a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Under Perry’s leadership, MZM Construction has had 19 years of profitable performance, working on projects including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Meadowlands Giants & Jets Sports Arena.