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Even though leadership styles vary as widely as hair color, we can all agree that strong leadership is vital to a thriving, progressing company. The obstacle is knowing whether or not your company has strong, motivating leaders. Are your leaders respected? Do they recognize talent? Can they see the big picture? The answers to these questions are key indicators to your venture's long-term viability.

1. Low employee engagement
Gallup estimated in a recent poll that only 30% of American employees are working at their full potential, and that disengagement costs "$450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year." If turnover is high and morale is low, ineffective leadership is likely the reason. Periodically analyze these key metrics to see if there is cause for concern. If engagement is sluggish and stagnant, there are several solutions that re-ignite interest and passion. Training opportunities, interesting new projects, and current team shake-ups are all viable solutions to low employee engagement.

2. Tasks instead of strategies
In meetings, are you hearing more discussion of checking items off a list than actual goal setting and strategic planning to reach them? Focusing on small tasks with little regard for the overall goal is a sign that leadership isn't "steering the ship." If small picture thinking takes over your organization, goals will languish and profits will suffer. Invest in leadership training to keep each team member working toward long-range company success.

3. Lack of fresh ideas
Is it business as usual, same old thing, quarter after quarter? Lax leadership could be the reason. Managers who fail to keep abreast of breaking technology, current trends, and new products miss key opportunities to gain new customers and expand profits. Encourage frequent brainstorming sessions, and invest in your leadership so they understand the importance of maintaining a stance as industry expert, and step out of their comfort zones to learn new, more productive ways of doing things.

4. Disorganized, mis-aligned teams
Every component of an organization should function in relation to the others to create success and reach common goals. If your company's sales team isn't connected to marketing's branding message, marketing has no idea about the new product sales is promoting, and customer support is being left out all together, it's time to regroup. A critical aspect of leadership is working across departments with other leaders. If this is not happening in your company, find team building, leadership opportunities to bring cohesion back to your business.

5. Little or no communication
There is no such thing as successful "drive-by leadership." Inconsistent or unclear communication typically does more to frustrate a team than motivate them. If there are grumblings that a manager is frequently unavailable, too busy to assist with issues, or unwilling to jump in to guide an initiative, there are problems brewing. Take action by investing in leadership classes as well as one-on-one coaching sessions.

6. Unable to handle workplace conflicts
Unfortunately, workplace conflicts can escalate and impede the productivity of the entire team. Strong leaders are able to mitigate this from happening. If there are frequent issues between employees that never seem to find resolution, look closely at the leader. Sometimes a simple conflict resolution class works wonders on helping the leader know how to adeptly manage workplace conflict.

7. Outdated thinking and strategies
No matter how experienced a leader, good ones never stop learning. Managers with outdated leadership styles who are reluctant to embrace change and who automatically tune out to new ways of executing strategies are detrimental to the entire workplace. Plus, they are your competitors' favorite people. Create a culture of change by continually promoting educational opportunities for leaders to understand how positive change can decrease mundane tasks and increase the bottom line.

Ensuring your company maintains strong leaders is crucial to achieving long-term sustainability and success. Know the signs when a leader is stagnant or struggling so you can invest in helpful leadership training and coaching that empowers him or her to improve. Assisting your leaders in raising the bar elevates every employee, and keeps you forging ahead of your competition.


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