The ability to inspire and motivate people is the single biggest attribute of a successful leader.
Recent research by global recruitment firm Randstad shows more than half of all people surveyed (51%) want a leader that inspires and motivates – yet half of the respondents rated their own direct manager as poor or average in this area.
There is a significant gap between what is expected of our leaders and what they are delivering. Add in the fact that productivity is directly related to employee motivation and it becomes not just a people issue but actually impacts the bottom line.
Recent research by the Society for Knowledge Economics found that those with positive leadership cultures delivered a 12% productivity upside and triple the profitability of comparative companies. So what does it take to be an inspirational leader? It takes knowledge and action.
The knowledge we require is sometimes obvious, and sometimes quite hidden.
Think of an iceberg. There is a common understanding that only 10% of an iceberg is visible above the surface. This is often, but not always, correct. In equilibrium an iceberg will float. However often we don’t know what’s going on under the surface and the berg is often eroding. When the erosion gets too much the berg simply flips over.
Leaders need to see what’s happening at the tip of their iceberg and more importantly, they need to know “what’s going on beneath the surface” to avoid it flipping over.
The 4 areas of knowledge required by inspiring leaders are:
Technical – (what) this is what the company sells or does, their products and services, as well as the rules that relate to their industry. A manager in the banking sector needs to know something about financial regulations as well as know about the financial services and products it offers. You don’t need to be the absolute expert – but you need fundamental technical knowledge. Leaders also require basic management knowledge – how to evaluate performance, allocate resources, budget management skills. This knowledge is really obvious; it’s above the surface.
Organisational (how) – this is how do we deliver what we do, how various departments relate to each other, who has the authority to make certain decisions. It’s how the work is organised – it’s the financial delegations, the reporting structures, the policies and procedures. A leader may have great technical knowledge but you also need to know how to get the work done. This is often above and below the surface
Social – (who) – your teams, your people, the politics and culture of the workplace. It’s the knowledge you need to influence people, to match people to the task, manage conflict, harness diversity etc. This knowledge is mostly below the surface
Individual – (me) your role as leader, your self-awareness, knowing your own style/skills/abilities, understanding the scrutiny you’re under as a leader, knowing the responsibilities that you have.
As the new financial year approachs this is the time for inspirational leaders to shine. So as you review the past year and plan for the next year here are 5 actions to ensure you are inspiring your people:
- Navigate a course of action - as you develop individual Performance Plans for the year ahead make sure you clearly demonstrate how each person’s tasks contribute to the overall organisational objectives - 24% of people nominate this as their most important motivator.
- Celebrate short term wins – during performance appraisals be sure to acknowledge the small successes as well as the bigger gains. For 38% of people “feeling valued” for their contribution is their number one motivator at work. During long projects, or even times when it’s business as usual, inspiring leaders find a reason to stop and celebrate with an event, a reward or a simple thank-you
- Self-awareness – know yourself and your capabilities. Dedicate time each day to reflect on your decisions and evaluate your performance critically and honestly.
- Take care of the little things – manage those seemingly small interpersonal workplace issues. If they’re ignored they have the ability to grow to Titanic proportions. They become distracting which then effects productivity.
- Map out a development plan for individual staff - inspiring and motivating staff by showing them future possibilities and the route to get there is critical. Recent Randstad research highlights how half of all respondents intend to leave their current role citing lack of opportunity for growth and development. This is more than double the number that will leave due to uncompetitive salary and remuneration.
The start of a new financial year is a critical time that will set the foundations and determine the successes for the next 12 months. It’s time to lead, to inspire, and to make sure your iceberg is well balanced and avoid the tipping berg.