Frontline leaders: the key to organisational success
Frontline leaders, the behind-the-scenes maestros, are the bridging links that connect an organisation’s senior leadership with the team operating on the front lines. They shoulder the responsibility of supervising an impressive 80% of the workforce, a figure corroborated by Harvard Business Review (HBR). They are they translate business strategies into action, they keep the wheels of process operations in motion, they are the leaders closest to clients and customers, and they are the torchbearers of organisational culture among team members.
Imagine your organisation as a grand symphony. Frontline leaders are akin to conductors, ensuring each section of the orchestra performs in harmony. They tune the string section (team members), synchronise with the brass (senior leadership), and maintain the rhythm with percussion (day-to-day operations). However, if our conductors are trained incorrectly and are underprepared, we risk an out-of-sync, discordant performance.
Ask yourself, are your conductors ready to lead your symphony to a standing ovation? Or do they need a little more training, rehearsal, practice and nurturing? Read on to see why investing in their development is a score your organisation can’t afford to ignore.
Frontline leaders: the organisational linchpins
Frontline leaders, sometimes called frontline supervisors or frontline managers, operate as the crucial link between senior leadership and the employees who interact directly with customers or clients. They oversee day-to-day operations, managing the work of their direct reports while also implementing business strategy formulated by higher-level leaders. Their role requires a delicate balance of technical proficiency and essential frontline leadership skills. However, they often find themselves under-prepared for the nuances of their roles, having been promoted based on their technical skills alone.
The need to invest in frontline leaders
Despite the complex nature of their role, frontline leaders often receive little to no training or development for their leadership or managerial responsibilities. This underinvestment in their development can result in unrealised potential, and a sense of overwhelm due to not being equipped with the fundamental leadership capabilities to inspire, coach, lead change, lead for wellbeing, and drive the performance of their teams. An investment in frontline leadership training and development is a strategic decision, that can dramatically impact productivity, morale, and employee engagement.
The impact of effective frontline leadership
Effective frontline leaders can transform the landscape of an organisation. They can increase employee engagement, improve operational efficiency, and drive overall business success. When team members feel heard, supported, included, cared for and valued, their performance and engagement levels rise. In fact, Harvard Business Review highlights that organisations with high employee engagement outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.
Essential skills for frontline leaders
Frontline leaders require a diverse range of skills to excel in their roles. Among these, three core areas hold special significance: Maximising Performance, Self-Awareness coupled with Self-Compassion, and Advocating Inclusion and Wellbeing. Here’s a breakdown of these crucial capabilities:
- Maximising Performance: This involves not just achieving, but surpassing set targets and goals. A successful frontline leader is one who can inspire commitment, appreciate and reward team members’ contributions, and guide their team to complete tasks, thereby driving the team to outperform expectations.
- Self-Awareness and Self Compassion: This involves being mindful of your strengths, weaknesses, and growth areas, which equips leaders with the emotional intelligence to interact effectively with people with diverse personalities and from diverse backgrounds, and make sound day-to-day decisions. Complementing this awareness is self-compassion, they demonstrate resilience and lead by example, showing their team members how to learn from mistakes and challenges rather than be defeated by them.
- Advocating Inclusion and Wellbeing: Successful frontline leaders don’t just manage diverse teams; they create an environment of inclusivity and wellbeing. They promote a sense of belonging among all team members, actively combat biases, and celebrate diversity, contributing to a healthier, more productive workplace.
By developing these capabilities, frontline leaders become invaluable assets, driving team performance, operational success, and ultimately, organisational growth.
Developing frontline leaders: the need for a robust training program
The necessity for an intensive, meticulously planned learning and development experience for frontline leaders is paramount. It’s a strategic decision, one that an organisation that wishes to succeed cannot choose to overlook or undervalue.
The process of crafting competent and effective frontline leaders demands time, resources, and more importantly, patience. As they step out of being an individual contributor and into people leadership, these new leaders often find themselves in uncharted waters. The transition can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s here that training, development, mentorship, coaching, leadership forums, and peer learning groups offer them a guiding light, a compass to navigate this new terrain.
Remember, investing in the development of your frontline leaders is like tuning your orchestra. The better the tuning, the more beautiful the melody. The results will echo through increased employee engagement, improved operational efficiency, and the overall success of the organisation.
Few roles are inherently as stressful – or as important – as the frontline leaders, yet few organisations properly equip their frontline leaders with the necessary development to be successful. By addressing their development needs, organisations can build a more resilient and engaged workforce, contributing to sustainable and inclusive growth. Learn more about Inkling Group’s Leadership Development by connecting with a member of our team today.
Isn’t it time you support, nurture and develop your conductors (aka: frontline leaders) to lead the symphony to a standing ovation?