Frontline Leadership – What does it take to succeed?

In Australia we are currently facing a candidate driven market, signifying the employment market is rich in jobs, and poor in available talent. When you consider that over 64% of employees leave roles due to poor management and leadership it has never been more crucial that your management team are strong leaders, with no role more crucial than that of your frontline leaders.

As Fred Hassan wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “It is the frontline managers who must motivate and bolster the morale of the people who do the work… These managers are central to a company’s business strategy because they oversee its execution.”

Though it’s common for frontline supervisors to be first-time managers, they are responsible for critical day-to-day operations and influencing the work of their direct reports. Frontline leadership combines the practical skills required to manage frontline workers and the ability to make proactive decisions that will benefit the overall success of the organisation. In other words, frontline leadership describes the disposition supervisors need to bring the best out of frontline employees.

Frontline leaders are essentially the choke point between upper management and frontline workers, as such, very few roles are more important to the success of an organisation than that of the frontline leader. So exactly what does it take to be a successful frontline leader? How can you help to create a positive work environment so that productivity will improve?

Key Frontline Leader Skills

There are certain skills that all frontline leaders need to do their jobs efficiently. While a frontline leader may possess the technical skills required for the role, it is often the “soft” skills that need development and are the most important contributors to success. In order to be an effective frontline leader – not just a manager – a frontline leader needs the following three qualities as a foundation:

  1. Effective communicator
    You need to be able to communicate well. To be a good communicator, you have to be a good listener. Practice active listening, and really try to hear and understand everything you are being told. Being a good listener is a great way to establish trust and strengthen relationships. Authenticity is an important aspect of leadership. The best, most respected leaders are down-to-earth and authentic. Employees have a solid appreciation for a leader who is genuine and honest.
  2. Ability to Adapt
    As a leader, it’s important to act quickly, to be agile when needed. No matter what organisation you are in, circumstances are always going to change. If there’s one thing we have all learned in 2022, it’s how to deal with the unexpected.  A good leader will be able to adapt and adjust to changes as needed. Adaptability is an essential frontline leadership skill. A leader who can adapt to situations is open to different ways of thinking, not afraid to be creative, and tries to understand the perspectives of others.
  3. Good Motivator
    There are a lot of ways to motivate and inspire your team. You can lead by example – demonstrating integrity, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude. You can offer praise and appreciation to employees who are doing great work. You can also empower team members by giving them the power or authority to do something with complete control.

While these three qualities are pivotal, there are many other skills and behaviours that make a great frontline leader. Skills that can be taught through facilitated learning, external to your organisation, to develop objective understanding and identification of areas for growth or optimisation.

In 2022, Harrison Human Resources is launching a bespoke Frontline Leader Training Program, to support your organisation in building the capabilities of your emerging and current frontline leaders. Each of the above qualities and many more skills, will be taught through face to face and virtual workshops, followed by one-on-one coaching and support.

Do you want to learn more about how Harrison Human Resources can help you? Reach out to us today.


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