High retention is most often an issue of leadership. The key measure of your effectiveness as a leader lies both in the results your team achieves and their willingness to follow you with their heart, not just their head and their hands. And it’s not just the leadership of your subordinates, leadership applies to peers, senior staff, vendors, subcontractors, clients, and everyone else that you come in contact with. Employees rarely leave because of money. It’s usually about leadership.

Do you want to become the employer of choice? Then grow in your personal leadership skills. Do you want to poach-proof your company? Then become a better leader. If your star performer leaves your organization for a “better opportunity,” then it may be a good time to reflect on employee retention. If you lose an employee, it’s probably not for monetary reasons. It could be because of the ineffective leadership within your company. People rarely leave for a “better opportunity.” The process of making a move has more to do with leaving a company than going to another.

Of course there will be times when employees leave good companies for another, even when there is good leadership in place. Sometimes a change is needed just for the sake of a change. But if you see many people leaving at a time when most employees are hesitant about making risky moves, then it could be time to do a leadership evaluation and make some changes.

Leadership development programs must have a heartfelt and authentic commitment from the top. Leadership is an emotional issue because we are emotional beings and it must be implemented from the heart. Employees want to believe in what they are doing and the changes that they are making, but their efforts often feel futile because they don’t have the real commitment from their leader, only the empty and expected words of support.

Leadership has nothing to do with ego but has everything to do with mission accomplishment and taking care of your people. In fact, a true leader submits his own ego and personal agenda to the needs of the organization. Ego must be checked at the door if you are to assume an authentic role as a leader. At the end of the day a truly effective leader should be invisible to the group. It is the team, not the leader, that should rise up and say “We did this ourselves. This is our project. We own it. We are the ones who accomplished this task.”

Here are three steps to chart your course in the direction of becoming a great leader:

1. Commit to reading.

Make a simple goal to read two pages a day on leadership. There is no greater guarantee to bottom-line success than the development of leaders within an organization, and it all starts with you.

2. Help implement a leadership development program within your company.

Talk to human resources, or better yet, go up the food chain until you find someone that is as passionate as you are to creating a culture of achievement.

3. Ask your team how they define leadership.

Get some dialogue going on the subject. You may start with something simple with your team like reading a book and having discussions every other week on a chapter from the book. This can be a good start because just the intention of going in that direction is all you need to get started in creating real innovative change within the organization. You can eventually formalize the process later, but just get people to start talking about it.

Leadership is a concept that requires continuous discussion and exploration. It is in doing this that not only will you send a signal of strength to your company, but you will also be building up and strengthening those within the organization by giving them a pipeline of achievement.

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