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Back to Work Podcast: Cultivating Leadership Traits for Effective Talent Retention and Recruitment


Identifying and nurturing leaders has long been a critical component of workforce growth. Finding those who have a knack for helping others, guiding teams and exemplary performance has never been easy, but it’s getting harder than ever before. Certainly, the challenges with remote and hybrid work have made it more difficult to recognize leaders that may be under the radar or still in the early stages of their careers. And with 82% of workers saying they’ve considered quitting their jobs because of a bad boss or manager, the demand for quality leaders is immense as businesses struggle with both workforce retention and candidate recruitment.

In the newest episode of our Back to Work podcast series, host Joe McIntyre talks with Dallas Grundy, a seasoned expert with over two decades of experience driving transformative change within educational institutions. Dallas is the Senior Vice President and CFO at The University of Akron and has spent his career not only identifying leaders but also helping to mold the leaders of the future at the university. On the episode, the two talk about how to cultivate the many leadership traits required in today’s new workforce, why they have been so hard to identify and what the future of workplace leadership may look like. Additionally, they talk about how leadership characteristics not only empower teams and enhance productivity but also play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining top talent.


Listen To The Full Podcast Episode


Traits that Define Exceptional Leaders

What is the core essence of an outstanding leader? There will always be the timeless traits such as ambition, initiative, meticulous attention to detail, business acumen, adeptness in creative problem-solving and honed critical thinking skills – the hallmarks of exceptional leaders. These qualities are not only instrumental in propelling organizational triumph but also serve as beacons that allure and retain top-tier talent. But increasingly, softer skills like empathy, patience, kindness and true collaboration are becoming critical in today’s workforce. The leadership styles from generations ago – where an iron fist, no exceptions style ruled – are no more. Getting the best out of people requires understanding what they need to succeed.

The Power of Transparent Leadership

Transparency stands as one of the cornerstones of effective leadership. Leaders of today must embrace transparency in their actions, decisions and communication. Transparent leadership cultivates trust among team members, fostering a sense of loyalty and dedication. When employees have a clear understanding of the organization's direction and decisions, their engagement and commitment to their roles naturally deepen and they feel more connected to their work, their colleagues and the business’ mission.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as emotional quotient or EQ, has emerged as another pivotal trait for triumphant leaders. While it may have always been the case, its recent emergence as a more defined term has increased hiring managers’ desire to hire those who have it. Having EQ is critical in comprehending and managing both personal and team members' feelings and emotions. Leaders who are adept in emotional intelligence are better poised to create a positive and supportive work environment, leading to heightened job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation and Growth

Innovation and growth are two intertwined pillars that adept leaders nurture within their organizations. By nurturing continuous learning, embracing change and providing avenues for personal and professional development, leaders can attract and retain individuals genuinely committed to their personal growth and the organization's evolution. Just as it is on the playing field, team empowerment can be tricky to navigate if it’s in the wrong hands. Having leaders who know when to push, when to pull and when not to rock the boat can lead to higher productivity throughout the year.

Adapting Leadership in the Technological Era

As technology seamlessly integrates into the fabric of the workplace, the role of leaders has evolved. Leaders who harness the potential of technology to drive efficiency, facilitate collaboration and inspire innovation are primed to steer organizations toward uncharted heights in the digital age. But again, there is a delicate balance here. Technology must be used by leaders to enhance skills and improve efficiency, not as a replacement for human ingenuity.


Final Thoughts

Today, leadership must be cultivated in a way that not only supports talent retention but also helps shape a dynamic recruitment strategy. Having those who can empower current teams while showcasing what’s special about the company and the team environment to potential new hires is becoming increasingly necessary. Through a combination of traits, including transparency, emotional intelligence and a growth-oriented mindset, leaders can foster an environment where present and future leaders can flourish.

Check out the full podcast episode to learn even more from Dallas about how to find, nurture and support leaders in the workplace.

Leadership Traits

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