Effective Leadership: A Driver in Talent Retention

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 8
Words: 2293
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD


In the current competitive business environment, many organizations are under pressure to retain their best talents in order to remain successful. Finding the right talent to undertake various tasks within an organization is one of the most complex tasks that many organizations face. Having the right academic qualification alone may not make an employee superior to employees of a rival firm. An employee with unique ways of approaching tasks in a timely and economic manner is what every organization looks for in modern society. Sometimes it may be costly to enhance the skills and talents of employees to make them better performers. It is for this reason that many organizations always make an effort to avoid cases of losing talents, especially to the rival firms. A firm will make every effort to retain its most talented employees in order to remain competitive. According to DuBrin (2011, p. 62), effective leadership may be a driver to talent retention. In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine how relevant effective leadership is as a major driver in talent retention.

Research objectives

When conducting research, it is always necessary to define the objectives that should be achieved by the end of the study. In this research, the following are the research objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve.

  1. To determine the role of leadership in talent retention within an organization
  2. To determine other factors that may enhance retaining employees within an organization

Research questions

It is important to develop research questions at this stage to help in the process of collecting relevant data from various primary and secondary sources. The following research questions will be used to guide this research.

  1. What is the role of effective leadership in enhancing talent retention within a firm?
  2. What other organizational issues may make employees consider staying with an organization for a long time?

Effective Leadership and Talent Retention

According to Bissell and Dolan (2011, p. 51), the best way of retaining employees is to have effective leadership. Employees are human beings with feelings that can be affected based on how they are handled by the management. Although the belief that remuneration affects the ability of employees to remain within a given firm is partly true, there are other issues that go beyond money. It is necessary to look at some of the leadership attributes that may act as a driver in talent retention within an organization.

Driver 1: Maintain Effective Communication

Communication is one of the most critical issues within an organization. According to Dwivedi (2006, p. 537), misunderstandings are always common in workplaces where there are poor communication systems. Such misunderstandings, especially between employees and their superiors, may make an employee consider moving out of a given organization. As a leader, it is always essential to have an effective communication system. Organizations are now abolishing the rigid bureaucratic communication system that overemphasized the need to communicate from one hierarchy to the next. Many leaders are now embracing open communication systems where top managers and junior employees can easily interact and communicate without any form of intimidation. This way, the top managers can be aware of the forces that affect junior employees in their various areas of work. Employing the strategy makes employees feel connected with the top managers. This unique connection may make an employee stay with a firm for long. Flint (2012, p. 94) says that having an effective communication system does not just stop at making it possible for the top managers and junior officers to communicate openly. It also involves having the right communication systems that can enhance the process of sharing knowledge among the relevant stakeholders within the organization. This may involve installing communication tools and equipment.

Driver 2: Be Ethical

Ethics is another issue that many scholars have mentioned as a major contributor to high rates of employee turnover. According to Aquinas (2006, p. 78), many managers approach the issue of ethics from a biased angle. Being ethical entails doing the right thing at the right place, with the right people, and for the right reasons. It involves avoiding issues that may be considered controversial within the organization at all times. Employees always look up to the top managers to show them what they can emulate at the workplace. Kline (2010, p. 38) says that one of the most common and very destructive unethical behaviors in many organizations is the issue of having an affair among the employees or between the managers and junior employees. When such things happen, it is common to see people who are less deserving given promotions because of their relationships with the top managers. Such issues may not just affect the performance of a firm but also the motivation of other employees who feel that their effort is not appreciated. Moreover, when such an affair comes to an end, issues of victimization always set in, making it difficult for the victim to stay within the firm. Leaders should make an effort to avoid such relationships because they may endanger the ability of the firm to achieve success. Other unethical practices such as corruption, favoritism, and negative criticism should also be avoided.

Driver 3: Be Flexible

According to Annabelle (2006, p. 858), a leader should be flexible. As a leader, it is important to be open to new suggestions as long as they are sensible enough to bring the desired result. Change is a factor that cannot be avoided because of the dynamic environmental forces. In many cases, leaders are always expected to initiate change within a firm. Employees can only consider change relevant if it is supported by their leaders. For this reason, a leader should see change when it is coming, internalize it at the right time, and then find ways of communicating it to other employees in a simple and convincing manner. Harris (2009, p. 93) says that a leader must be aware of the fact that there may be resistance to change among employees, especially among the aging population. People easily develop a fear of the unknown. Whenever they are subjected to a new system that may require them to change their approaches towards various issues in the workplace, they get scared, and this explains why they sometimes consider resisting change. In such contexts, a leader will need to find appropriate models of change that will reduce cases of rebellion against change. Kurt Lewin’s Change Model is one of the popular ways of introducing change within an organization.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model
Figure 1: Kurt Lewin’s Change Model

As shown in the above diagram, this model has three main stages that a leader should follow when introducing change. The first step is to unfreeze. This involves finding weaknesses of the existing systems or methods and preparing the stakeholders for a new system. The leader will need to explain to the stakeholders why the existing system cannot be used anymore, and the benefits that the new system brings to the firm. Of importance will be to address any fears that the employees may have or misconceptions over the new system. The second step is to change. This involves the actual introduction of the new system (Adetule 2011, p. 112). The third stage is to freeze. In this case, freeze means making the stakeholders understand and accept the new system and all its components. It may even entail in-house training for the employees, especially if the new system is a radical shift from the old system.

Driver 4: Make Sound Judgment

According to Miller (2012, p. 50), leaders are expected to make sound judgments at all times. Cases can arise that may require critical decision-making by the leader. For instance, employees may seek the intervention of their leader in case they have disagreements. In such cases, they expect the leader to be fair and reasonable in his or her decisions. Favoring any of the two sides may not be a good idea. Coming up with a win-win situation may be the best option in such challenging moments. Another issue that may require sound decision-making is the process of managing the employees. According to Schuttler and Burdick (2010, p. 74), McGregor’s Theory X and Y may be applicable in this case. Choosing Theory X is not advisable because the leader will be viewing employees as people incapable of taking control of their own life. However, some dishonest employees may need this approach of management. However, Theory Y is the most appropriate for managing the employees, especially those who have won the trust of their leader. According to this theory, the leader hands over the role of supervision to the employees. Such employees will be responsible for their own actions within the firm. This brings trust between the leader and the employee, a fact that may reduce the desire to look for other employers. Employees will feel valued by the firm, and this helps to create a family bond that ties everyone in the firm together.

Driver 5: Influence and Inspire

According to Transformational Leadership Theory, a leader should be one that inspires and influences others to act in a given manner. Employees always look up to their leaders to show them the way, especially when they encounter challenging moments. According to Ferch and Spears (2011, p. 30), one of the characteristics of a transformational leader is the ability to inspire other people. A leader should be able to evoke unique feelings among the employees that make them desire to achieve greatness. The leader should make the employees feel that they can perform better if they exploit their full potential. Making employees rediscover themselves is always very motivating. It makes them feel empowered. They may not want to go away from such a leader that evokes unique power in them. A leader should also inspire, as defined in the Transformational Leadership Theory.

Literature review on qualitative research

According to Hakim (2000, p. 94), choosing an appropriate design when conducting social sciences research depends on the nature of the research and what it is expected to achieve. Research may use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research methods based on the above factors. The qualitative research method is very useful when conducting research that is descriptive in nature. It uses descriptive data instead of the statistical values common in quantitative research. As Brewer and Hunter (2006, p. 73) note, qualitative research is common when investigating issues that require more explanatory data than figures.

Research Design

When conducting research, it is necessary to define research design. This involves the method to be used in the collection of data and the subsequent analysis. The research will use both primary and secondary sources of data. Secondary sources of data will be collected from relevant books, journal articles, newspapers, and reliable online sources. The primary data will be collected from a team of participants who have experience in management. The researcher will sample a group of supervisors, mid-managers, and top managers in three main firms within the city. Given that the sample will be taken from three main categories, the appropriate sampling technique will be stratified sampling (Hakim 2000. P. 53). Each of the three categories will be assigned the same weight when sampling.

This will be qualitative research, which means that data analysis will take a descriptive approach. Although the quantitative approach may also be appropriate in this study because of the need to conduct a mathematically-supported empirical study, the researcher considered qualitative study more appropriate in this case. This research needs a detailed explanation of the factors that may influence the retention of talents within an organization. Getting the numerical values alone may not help much. It is important to explain the drivers, and how leadership plays a role in the entire process. Another important issue will be the validity and reliability of the study. This research is expected to be used to redefine the leadership approach in current organizations. The researcher will, therefore, be very keen to ensure both the internal and external validity of the study are maintained.

Justification of the research method

According to Brewer and Hunter (2006, p. 79), qualitative research is based on a philosophical tradition with ontological and epistemological assumptions which are very different from that which is used in quantitative research. Qualitative research offers a unique capacity to give a detailed report about an investigation that goes beyond giving mere numbers. This research involves a social inquiry. The researcher will be interested in determining how effective leadership can help in the retention of talents within a firm. This means that the research will involve participants’ observation. Descriptive data is more appropriate at this stage because of the need to get different views of the participants based on their experiences. Numerical values common in quantitative research will not be relevant at this stage. The researcher will be more interested in the explanatory data that the respondents will be given based on their experience. That is the reason why the researcher preferred qualitative over quantitative research.


Leadership plays an important role in the retention of talents within a given organization. It is clear from the literature reviewed that employees’ decisions are influenced by the leadership pattern within an organization. When the employees are made to feel valued by the managers, they tend to stay longer within an organization. On the other hand, when employees feel intimidated and despised by their leaders, they lose the desire to work for such an organization, leading to high turnover rates. This means that it is the responsibility of the leaders to create the desire among the employees to stay for long within the firm. Maintaining respect, enhancing communication, being ethical, flexible, making sound judgment, and inspiring the employees are some of the ways of motivating the employees to remain within the firm.


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