There’s a lot of talk these days about how leaders need to be able to inspire their teams. Too much of this talk revolves around “cheerleading” people and doing things that, for many of us, aren’t natural and feel forced. To our teams, these forced actions seem odd and manipulative.
If you and your teams are going to keep up with technology, outpace the competition, provide more for less cost, and keep employee engagement and enthusiasm high, it takes leaders who can inspire others to cause things that aren’t going to happen otherwise (a good working definition of leadership, by the way).
In our work around the globe, we’ve discovered five key ways for any leader to cause the kind of independent, inspired action that leads to new results, greater satisfaction, and increased commitment:
It’s not your job to have all the answers. Really. For one thing, you will rapidly run out of answers! Plus, if you’re doing something new, there probably isn’t a script to follow. So stop trying. Focus instead on being on a road of discovery and realize your job is to liberate a community of inspired learners. Step outside your comfort zone and be the one in the room whose focus is on making collaboration possible. Be secure in the knowledge that collaboration can energize your team, drive employee engagement, and help create understanding around how certain changes and decisions can benefit the organization.
Collaboration can’t be demanded, coerced, or bought; it has to be evoked. And a key to inspiring others to join you is to have open conversations with employees about the “why” behind the need for change and need for collaboration. When you make decisions, be clear about what you’ve considered and how the team has contributed to your thinking. This keeps everyone on the same page and working toward the same common goal. Having overt conversations also prevents employees from making up stories about why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you’re asking from them.
We’ve discovered that there are two key areas of clarity for a team on the move: who gets to decide what, and how information will be shared. Let people know how the final decision will be made and how information will flow through the organization to keep people informed. This helps employees feel more involved and more empowered, even if your leadership team is still in charge of making those decisions. Ask your employees for feedback and opinions about the decisions, and allow that sense of community and collaboration to drive positive change and inspired action.
Inspiration comes from a deep sense that we are winning! In dynamic times, the way to win is to adopt the mantra of “learn and adjust.” Use the Align, Act, and Adjust model to accelerate learning and results using less time, money, and stress. This strategy involves reviewing key purposes and concerns to identify measurable achievements (Align), establishing clear projects with ongoing support for teams who need help (Act), and reviewing results and making changes as needed to meet goals (Adjust).
After each cycle, have conversations with the team about what they learned and what can be done differently next time. Continue to cycle repeatedly until the teams can operate independently and can be self-supervising, committed teams in action.
As a leader, you may face tension, frustration, and pushback when making certain decisions or sharing your point of view. These can dampen even the most powerful sense of inspiration. Support collaboration by listening to and inviting alternate perspectives, and be prepared to be surprised by what you hear and learn. Instead of delivering your point of view at the end of a conversation, make it the beginning of a new exploration that could open the doors to new, amazing ideas.
Does your organization need help improving collaboration between leaders and employees in the workplace? Read our ebook, The Vitality Imperative, to learn more about how connected leaders and teams can accomplish more with less time, money, and stress. Visit Conversant.com or call 303.541.9491 for more information about solutions that can help your organization achieve and accelerate