When leadership is inspirational

Feb 24, 2007

A BASIC attitude to a job is the shallowest form of commitment most employees give to their work. Common sentiments are: “It’s a job”, “The money’s good” or “There’s opportunity for promotion”.

At this base level, a day’s work is done in return for a salary or wage and sometimes the effort can be half hearted or short-lived. There is a low commitment to change or improvement. Authority, force or command and control management techniques may be used but they have limited effect in truly motivating staff.

At a higher level, an emotional commitment to work can be engendered by enabling followers to support a specific purpose. Effective leaders need to communicate their vision for the future; their purpose for the enterprise.

Logical arguments may not always convince. Dry facts, no matter how professionally presented, can fail to sway an audience. Leaders must be sensitive and be able to use emotions to express their own feelings and to be sensitive to those of their listeners.

Do you find time for individuals in your enterprise? Are you always behind your desk and your door is always open? Are you overwhelmed by the demands on your time in running the day-to-day minutiae of the business?

Or do you lead by walking around, by listening and by talking to people?

Building rapport with staff at all levels is an essential ingredient in influencing their attitude and behaviour. It’s a matter of finding a common link or bond between two people. It’s something that’s often overlooked as it’s easier to send a memo or an e-mail than it is to engage with people at their own level.

A strategic plan is only useful when it’s implemented. In cases where it’s imposed on an enterprise from the top down, only one in three is successfully introduced. Where leaders confer with colleagues when considering most of the long-term priorities, almost all strategic plans are adopted as the team feels a sense of ownership, mission and agreed direction.

To inspire means to “breathe life into”. Leadership should always focus on an outcome. Perhaps a new way of doing something, achieving a goal or fulfilling a vision. Inspirational leadership brings life to an enterprise and enables the team to support a compelling vision.

It’s as much about language as it is about personality. Inclusive expressions like “us” and “we” are commonly used. It demands conviction, energy and passion.

Good communicators are not just clever wordsmiths. They are able to listen openly and sensitively to the verbal and non-verbal messages that we all transmit. They are able to achieve mutual understanding, including a frank sharing of information. They are in control of their emotional state by presenting a cool and patient persona that is able to lay aside preoccupations and agitation.

To get the best out of a team, a successful leader needs to sensitively apply a range of skills that respect and encourage team members to perform at their highest level.

For further information on this and other leadership and management issues, contact Jonathan Bailey on 01908 687800 or e-mail jonathan.bailey@bakertilly.co.uk

For more information, visit www.bakertilly.co.uk

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