Yet still people aren’t happy. There is still a deafening chorus of employees shouting “but I want a leader who can inspire”.
“What?” you say, “I do everything the leadership experts tell me I should do, and more, I work long hours managing large teams and complex projects always with optimism and enthusiasm, and that still doesn’t inspire you?”
No wonder leaders are confused. How would you feel? Exasperated? Angry? Dejected? Mystified? Ready to walk away from it all? Well don’t. Because the answer is very simple. The answer is found in moments – small moments to be precise.
Staff expect their leaders to be able to deliver on the big ticket stuff (for example accountants who can’t wrangle a spreadsheet are found out pretty quickly!). However, to inspire individuals to put in discretionary effort, to forge a team that is powerful and cohesive and fired up and to energise people so they are willing to take risks with full accountability requires trust and confidence in their leader and each other.
Every interaction you have with a staff member has the potential to build this trust and confidence. Every interaction can be used to build your relationships, to let your people know you care. The knock on the door and “have you got a minute?” conversation has the ability to inspire. Instead of seeing it as an interruption, look at it as a chance to lead – to clarify a strategy, or confirm an expectation, or outline a priority (no, sorry I haven’t got a minute right now because I’ve got this sales report due to the MD, but how about you come back in an hour?). Other moments could be…
- meeting strong emotions with a calm and steady hand
- checking in on people to see how they really are
- you find ways to appreciate people that are unexpected and imaginative
- when you make the right decision, the right way.
I call these moments Edge Moments. They have the potential to be the highlight or lowlight of his or her day. How you handle the conversation, or email, or text message – the moment – can have powerful far-reaching effects.
- Get it right and you have just taken the opportunity to breathe life into a corporate strategy, broken down a complex issue to its basics or explained the importance of a misunderstood policy. You’ve shown leadership.
- Get it wrong and you’ll have one disgruntled, and uninspired, team member.
- Get it right and the person walks away from the moment inspired, energised and feels valued.
- Get it wrong…well, you get the picture.
Add in the fact that every person is their own walking, talking social network, and your edge moment will soon be replayed to four or five other people – for better or worse.
The exponential effect of these moments is they build momentum. One positive moment after another, after another, creates a flow of goodwill and makes a hefty deposit in the trust bank. This becomes critical when the big event hits. When a big event happens and an individual, team or company is facing a difficult time, factoring heavily into how they succeed will be the dozens and dozens of edge moments they have had along the way. The moments where they may not remember what their manager said, but they will always remember how they felt.
Think about the best leaders you ever worked for. What is your strongest memory of them? The way they could craft a vision? The way they could always get their spreadsheets to balance??? Unlikely… I suspect your strongest memory of them is that the little interactions (Edge Moments) gave you the courage and confidence to do great things… Am I right?
Edge moments create momentum and
- turn good people into great leaders
- turn strategy into execution
- turn ideas into action.