A Focus on Leadership in 2022

P.S. This article was written by Gabrielle, Head of People Success, Denmark, as part of 24Slides’ Storyteller’s Program.

From a people perspective, we have decided that 2022 is the year to focus on leadership. Why – Because we want…

– To empower people to live up to their greatest potential. 
– Highly motivated, passionate, and engaged people who want to stay in 24Slides and help make the business realize its purpose – Empowering People in Emerging Markets.
– To move our business forward and focus on the long run. 

We believe that by enabling our leaders to be the best version of themselves, we also enable our business to thrive. We want to show the world that focusing on people is the key to a healthy and growing business. 

But how do we actually go about this? 

When entering into a management position, there are certain things that are expected from that role. And once you add responsibility over other people on top of that, it is somehow expected that you know how to be a leader as well. 

However, being a manager and being a leader are two very different things. To us, effective leadership means creating positive change by providing clarity of purpose, motivation, and guidance, whereas effective management is about establishing and maintaining the direction through systems and processes. 

For us, this difference brings up a new question: How do we make sure our managers know how to be effective leaders?

I truly believe that people who have a management position want to do a great job. We want to create great results and have engaged people who want to bring their best to work every day. But being a leader it’s not an easy task, and it’s even more difficult without the guidance or the tools to enable great performance. 

That’s why we have had some great discussions in our management teams in Denmark and in Indonesia. From these workshops, we identified the following 17 leadership principles for 24Slides:

  1. We seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
  2. We help people develop to achieve their full potential.
  3. We place our values at the heart of every decision we make.
  4. We take care of our team and ourselves.
  5. We take full ownership – also outside of our own team when it’s in the best interest of 24Slides.
  6. We can operate on all levels. We stay connected to details when needed. No task is beneath us. 
  7. We ask teammates to engage with us, show up beside us and learn with us.
  8. We respectfully challenge decisions on all levels in the organization when we disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable, and we encourage the same from our team.
  9. We are bold and not afraid of admitting mistakes.
  10. We are frugal, we always strive to do more with less.
  11. We dream big, and we communicate these visions to inspire results.
  12. We work together as a team to achieve the best results.
  13. We focus on execution and take calculated risks. 
  14. We make decisions with the good of all 24Slides in mind. 
  15. We lead by example – we say what we do, we do what we say, and we are ready to follow if others have more expertise.
  16. We provide and ask for feedback  – we are aware of our strengths and our opportunities for growth.
  17. We are curious, we ask questions because we always seek to learn more.

We found out that this is a great place to start, but then what? We have all of these fancy principles that all of us agree on. But how do we make sure that our leaders showcase this behavior in their day-to-day interactions with people in their teams and throughout the organization? 

The answer for us is that it is a journey… 

Firstly, we need to make sure that our managers have the right tools in order to actually follow the leadership principles. That is why we are creating leadership training – so that our leaders become the best version of themselves, feel more comfortable in their roles and help enable our people in 24Slides to become even more successful. 

This training will be ongoing throughout their time as leaders in 24Slides – and no training will be a one-off. Training will be refreshed over time in order to keep up with new knowledge and to challenge ourselves in our leadership style. 

Secondly, we want to establish leadership fora where leaders are able to share learnings and get input from each other on difficult cases or dilemmas – essentially creating spaces where leaders are able to discuss successes as well as failures in order to make better decisions. This way, leaders will also be part of creating their own leadership training, as well as creating a sense of team spirit among leaders. 

Our third focus will be to prepare our leaders of tomorrow. This means that people that show interest and talent for management and leadership will get training. They will also get the opportunity to try out their leadership skills and decide whether this is something they truly want to do. As a business, this will also allow us to assess what type of training is needed in order for our future leaders to succeed in their roles.

We are expecting we will get inspired along the way by our own learnings combined with input from outside 24Slides. This will be an exciting journey for our leaders, our people, and for 24Slides! 

I believe a focus on leadership and open discussions around leadership among managers is crucial. I have seen many leaders who take on so much ownership but struggle to show the right behavior in order to build trust in their teams because, essentially, they have not been given the right tools to do so.

I have met experienced leaders who truly believe they are doing an amazing job and have all the right answers, but in reality, they fail to listen to their people and the insights and experience they bring.

Some of these leaders fear owning up to their lack of competency because they do not want to seem like they fail as leaders. Sadly, not doing so results in exactly that – incompetent leaders. 

Ultimately, this leads to people leaving the company, or even worse, staying and being demotivated, and creating a bad work environment, with long-run consequences such as: 

– Poor performance
– High recruitment costs due to low retention
– Increase in bureaucracy due to a higher need for management control
– Inefficiency
… and the list goes on.

Speaking from experience, I also struggle in my leadership role at times, and I am also sometimes unsure of the right thing to do.

Poor leaders are not bad people – I truly believe that people have the best intentions when they wake up in the morning. Providing leaders with training, the right tools, and the right support, I believe, is the key to happier leaders, happier people, and a thriving business – and I am so excited to see where our initiatives and focus on leadership in 24Slides will lead us!