Leading people and inspiring them to follow!

To recap briefly, if you are responsible for people in an organization, any organization, your role has three parts: managing people for performance; leading people and inspiring them to follow; coaching people and helping them grow and develop!  This week we take a look at leading people and inspiring them to follow!

Are you an inspiring leader?

Would it surprise you to know that 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating? You know how this goes, right. On the other side of that coin, 82% of employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring (Gallup). 65% of employees would forego a pay raise if it meant seeing their leader fired (Forbes).  When people who are a responsible for others in an organization confuse managing for leading, you get these kinds of results. Managing is tough, measurement based and delivers feedback. If you are managing you are probably not leading.  If you don’t realize leading is a different role, you won’t be able to be intentional about spending more time there!


So, what comprises leadership? This model from Kouzes and Posner (The Leadership Challenge) provides this list of practices: model the way; inspire a shared vision; challenge the process; enable others to act; encourage the heart! The key in leadership is you, and how you behave.  This is the place where you convey more about who you are and what you are really about than at any other time in your work. Conveying this to your team is super important and will allow you to generate superior results. By being an inspiring leader and having people choose to follow you because they see something in you, are motivated by your leadership, and enjoy their work may give you an upside you didn't believe you could generate. There is a large chance that your people would become more committed to you and the company (+32% McKinsey).  Being more committed they could generate more satisfaction with their job (+46% McKinsey) and thus perform better (+16% McKinsey). And, this is not to mention that retention will likely go up with these kinds of numbers!

So, you need to intentionally spend time in this role of leader.  That means understanding when you are not in this role, what's keeping you from exercising this role (I know, you have to manage a large part of the time) and when might you get the opportunity lead again?   Some aspects of being in the leadership role are always on, like, “modeling the way”, your behaviour shows this aspect of being a leader everyday. You have opportunities to “enable others to act”, everyday.  There will be more times than you might think, to encourage someone in a meaningful way for them. While creating and sharing your vision is more of a planned occurence, there will be opportunities to reinforce and support the vision often - take those opportunities and point out when people are doing it naturally!  There will be times when things aren’t working and its the process that needs to be challenged. Think this one through, and if you mean it and see the opportunities,  challenge the process openly and enlist your team to help you find options and a potential solutions.

When it works

Leading is so powerful. If you are responsible for others in an organization, you will be able to generate superior results, turn teams around, have fun, be proud, look forward to coming to work and allow your people to feel the same way. Being a leader and inspiring people to follow you because of how you behave and because of what you value requires a bit of vulnerability to put those things out in front of your team.  Do it with confidence and with power and you’ll be awesome!