The role of the Leader in corporate growth: employees’ empowerment the key to success

Contemporary society and corporate action have undergone a radical transformation in recent decades that has also reverberated in the organisation of work.

This change should not, however, be interpreted as a contingent adaptation, but rather as instrumental to achieving the objectives indicated by the new business models.    

In fact, the current trend in many organisations, in a landscape strongly characterised by competitiveness, is to involve their resources more and more directly in decision-making processes through the establishment of work teams, and to overcome – whenever possible – a management based only on a vertical downward channel. 

Intellectual capital

From this point of view, investment in human capital therefore represents a fundamental asset from which one can no longer disregard and to which the valorisation of intellectual capital is also inextricably linked. It is precisely in this context that the consideration develops that the success of a working group is associated with the concept of the leader, the one who sets the example, orients, motivates and guides towards the achievement of objectives, without ever forgetting to maintain an ethical attitude and respect for the human dignity of the interlocutors.  

Leadership is undoubtedly one of the most discussed topics in the field of work organisation, which also finds a high degree of attention in various fields such as politics, sport and cultural anthropology

Leadership is based on the assumption that the leader cannot exist without followers: the leader, together with his or her group, exists as a system, in a specific field and at a specific time.

We wanted to discuss this issue with Dino Baglio, lecturer at the Executive Master in Human Resources Management at the Rome Business School, who told us:

“The idea of team is an integral part of all business realities and working in a team is one of the skills that young people entering the world of work must learn. Closely linked to the team concept is the figure of the leader: the one who embodies the mission and conveys the organisation’s vision. A man or woman capable of being empathetic, proactive and highly motivating. These are all characteristics that have taken on an even greater value during the hard two-year period of the covid 19 pandemic, when with smart working, remote team management has taken on more complex connotations than in the past, because it can happen that in the absence of moments of socialisation one can feel alone and experience motivational crises. Without wishing to make a gender difference, however, I would like to emphasise that women, due to their aptitude for managing relationships with others, listening, understanding and intuition of social dynamics, prove in fact to be excellent leaders. Their emotional and empathic impact immediately creates the ‘team effect’, guaranteeing high performance. “

The Power of Empowerment

Effective leadership is ‘human oriented’, because the task of a leader is to enhance the members of his or her staff and enable them to develop their skills and potential, and thus generate value for the organisation itself.   

The concept of empowerment, first developed by the American psychologist Julian Rappaport, identifies precisely that process that aims to empower resources for professional growth by generating greater self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy and self-determination. Talent management is a fundamental aspect of management: it is often not a matter of upgrading technical skills, but of helping to increase soft skills, i.e. the relational skills that can improve performance.

Differences within an organisation must be experienced as a value, because if they are well channelled, they represent a driver to be valued both socially and productively. To make leadership more charismatic and a staff more cohesive, a number of Anglo-Saxon figures come into play: the buddy, the mentor and the coach. Buddying is a knowledge-sharing method in which a peer, usually with a similar role or level of responsibility, provides advice and support to ensure a smooth transition into a new role. Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced person accompanies a less experienced one through a phase of personal and professional development, follows their steps and encourages them to develop their skills. Coaching is a process that aims to develop the skills and knowledge of a resource so that his/her work performance improves. For example, in relation to leadership action, there is a substantial difference between the international and the Italian approach. In our country leaders tend to be more centralised, abroad they also listen to new recruits and as Steve Jobs taught us only by giving space to younger people can talent be discovered because listening and confrontation generate innovation.

The importance of communication

The development process of a team depends on several factors: the most important are cohesion and leadership that are exercised through effective internal communication, which plays a fundamental role because it is the real lever of involvement for the achievement of the well-being of the organisation as a whole and enables its survival over time

Communication has a great capacity for empowerment because it strengthens and nurtures the relational network between colleagues.  It creates a virtuous circle since it places shared content at the centre of corporate strategy and transforms it into a choral modus operandi.

 

It is essential to involve staff in the various actions: their participation in the periodic events at which objectives and new initiatives are shared is a must, especially when the recognition of good results is transferred.  Then there are the motivational levers that depend on the defined career path, the performance assessment with periodic feedback that serves the person to understand how his career is evolving and what the company expects from him.”

Team training: upskilling and reskilling 

Training is an indispensable factor, in life as well as at work. 

The development of the globalisation process, coupled with the ability to adapt to change, makes a high level of training essential in the working world, because a kwow-how of standard skills is no longer sufficient to guarantee success in one’s career. The primary objective is therefore to reduce the skills gap as much as possible.

A very useful aspect of motivating staff is investing in their training. In this context, it is significant to adopt a correct people strategy: we put people at the centre of the company’s actions, we work on their skills and competences so as to ensure that their well-being improves.  This also promotes the long-term sustainability of the business. In this respect, training plays a primary role.

Seniors see it as the company’s attention to them, enabling them to increase their knowledge. Young people experience it as an excellent opportunity for growth and development because they see it as an investment in their future and will therefore be more motivated to stay. The phenomenon of great resignation is now well known with the consequence that the younger generations are more difficult to retain in an environment that does not fully satisfy them.”

The attractiveness of benefits: corporate welfare

The term ‘corporate welfare’ refers to all those initiatives promoted by companies that aim at improving the quality of life of their employees, both in the company and in their private lives, through benefits of various kinds, which can also prove to be important tools for increasing the attractiveness of their work positions.   

After the covid 19 pandemic, which significantly changed the approach to the world of work, leading to a re-evaluation of one’s own priorities, attributing more and more value to time to dedicate to oneself or one’s family, benefits have become increasingly diversified.  

We talk, in fact, of ‘flexible benefits’, because the worker can compose his or her own ‘welfare’ of goods and services, among those offered by the company, as long as they meet the conditions to be able to take advantage of the tax and social security contribution reliefs offered by the company.

 

“Welfare plans have become a fundamental asset for every organisation and act on the engagement level of employees.  They can include time management, cultural and training initiatives. These levers, if managed according to the needs of employees from a demographic point of view, are very well considered benefits.  In fact, the services offered are manifold: from reimbursement for language courses or travel, to conventions with gyms and swimming pools or with theatres and cinemas, etc.  Moreover, Covid 19 has influenced our lives and most employees no longer want to give up smart working because this modality has demonstrated in practice how space-time flexibility can be the most correct answer to reconcile work and family. But remote working is no longer seen as a benefit, but rather as a necessity’.

The skills most in demand

The true wealth of an organisation is its information, which must be read and translated in the right key to be functional for the company.  Big data has revolutionised business models because it makes it possible to generate new knowledge that can be used to make more informed decisions: from making production processes more efficient to managing emergency situations. 

The search for professionals able to exploit the enormous potential of big data is obviously growing. Data professionals, data scientists, data analysts, data engineers, security engineers have very specific skills with sometimes thin lines of demarcation that are functional for recruiting, for example. Artificial intelligence with the creation of ad hoc algorithms can be a facilitator of the process by carrying out an initial screening of curricula. Then, of course, the recruiter must intervene who, even remotely, must build a relationship with the candidate to understand whether he or she possesses the skills required to fill that position. The human factor can never be delegated to machines: observing proxemics can make us understand many things about the person we are selecting.” 

Trends in HR

Talent acquisition, i.e. all the strategies used to attract new talent capable of determining a competitive advantage for the company in the long term, is one of the most sought-after areas for young people. 

Compared to the past, with the classic process of personnel search and selection, the design of a talent acquisition strategy poses new challenges to the world of human resources because this process must fit in with the corporate priorities set by management. 

“The pandemic has given HR and management the opportunity to look into the private lives of employees and to understand how supporting them in every aspect also benefits the company.

Increasingly important are employee engagement programmes, which will have to meet the challenge of involving multi-generational and multi-ethnic teams with resources scattered throughout Italy (sometimes even abroad). Obviously it will be necessary to start with the definition of a corporate culture, which must not remain an abstract concept but must find concrete application in everyday working life. For Recruiting and Training, it is important to know the new technologies in order to be more effective in one’s function. In addition to the knowledge that is part of one’s cultural background, one has to add hard skills related to computer skills because much of the work is now done remotely.


DINO BAGLIO

HR Manager with consolidated experience in leading international commercial (Retail) and industrialI companies, with proven ability to operate in multicultural environments, both in the start-up and development phase and in periods of profound reorganisation and restructuring. Currently, he holds the position of HR Manager for Italy and Albania TAP AG: company established for the design, development and realisation of the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) gas pipeline. 

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