By Bruce Mayhew, Executive Coach, Corporate Trainer & Conference Speaker
Being a leader is amazingly rewarding and more demanding than ever as we navigate this brave new world.
I believe everyone is bursting with potential and ability. All we need is the space and trust to flourish. In today’s fast-paced, information rich, technologically dependent, multicultural, and multigenerational workplaces, a leader must move away from the idea that being a boss means making every decision. Instead, leaders need to embrace the expertise of others. To give you a comparison, I encourage you to imagine a conductor of a world class orchestra. A great conductor can’t play every instrument, but they do have a grand vision for shared greatness and the ability to inspire others to fulfil their potential.
So, let’s spend some time exploring three ways you can inspire greatness within your team.
- Be Clear About Purpose, Shared Values and Priorities
Being clear about purpose, shared values and priorities may sound rudimentary, but you’d be surprised how lost employees often feel. Having a town-hall every quarter or sharing the company priorities at the launch of a new year isn’t enough; the impact evaporates quickly.
Just as the north star appears in the sky every evening, leaders must consistently inspire employees using their purpose, shared values, and priorities. For example, imagine having a thirty-minute, virtual meeting every Tuesday morning at 9AM to unify your team and review your guiding light. Unfortunately, my experience tells me this doesn’t happen in most offices. Why? The most common reasons I hear is “I don’t have time”.
As leaders we must do better, we must make time. Imagine how many other meetings and conversations could be eliminated or shortened by that Tuesday morning 9AM meeting. Imagine how many hours would be saved when teammates are able to accurately develop a project plan the first time versus having to keep fine-tuning it. Imagine how inspired every employee would be when they experience first-hand why their contribution is important and how it fits into the larger strategy.
Whatever format you use, I’m confident you will find that frequently sharing your purpose and values will provide consistency and alignment to your team as they work on shared priorities.
- Give Employees Choice
Nobody wants to be controlled all day. Choice also nurtures pride and employee loyalty.
|Talented people want to accomplish great things.
Great leaders recognize that giving employees choice can’t be limited to, “Letting them choose if they want to work remotely a few days per week”.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I believe everyone is bursting with potential and ability. Talented people want to accomplish great things. If we truly believe we’ve hired the best people, we should also accept our employees want to be trusted to use their expertise and make important decisions.
Giving employees choice and the ability to make decisions is also another reason why making sure everyone is clear about purpose, shared values and priorities is so important. When our goals and values are aligned, leaders can confidently empower their team members to make choices that will naturally result in alignment and shared success.
And, when leaders try to control all decisions, they risk overwhelming their own workload, slowing down productivity and driving away the exceptional talent they’ve hired.
- Help Employees Grow
We all feel proud, empowered and more valuable when we gain experience. Sure, some people will be driven to learn more than others, but one thing is certain… nobody wants to be left behind.
So I ask, “As a leader, how do you learn about the personal and professional growth goals of each team member?”
As a corporate trainer and conference speaker I recognize employee growth traditionally takes the shape of formal training or conferences. I encourage you to look for creative ways you can help employees grow and inspire greatness. For example:
- Once a month have employees cross train with a teammate from another division.
- Start an in-office learning library where employees recommend books they find inspiring.
- Randomly invite an employee to “audit” a senior strategy briefing.
- Start a mentoring program with leaders from other departments and even other companies.
- Build trust that you will support them when they make a mistake. Mistakes are some of the best learning opportunities.
- And of course, imagine what employees will learn from the virtual, weekly priorities meetings we discussed earlier.
Finally, another approach to helping employees grow is to routinely ask what experience they would like to gain. Then, partner with them to set learning goals. By tailoring training to each person, you will have the greatest impact both in professional growth as well as motivation, productivity, pride, and loyalty.
Every one of us will naturally do our best (and often go above and beyond), when the people close to us help us feel our work has meaning, we have some autonomy, and our individual and shared success is important.
Being a leader is a great responsibility and extremely challenging work. It often means we must give more than we take as we share our time, energy, and appreciation with the people we support. At the same time, it is tremendously rewarding to nurture greatness in others.
I invite you to reach out to me if you want to brainstorm an idea, but for now, let me leave you with this one last – hopefully inspirational thought. Your organization may not be the perfect place to work, but don’t despair. I’ve seen leaders create micro-cultures that become thriving workplaces where teammates do feel increased pride, loyalty, productivity, and creativity at work.
Now, go inspire greatness in others… and yourself.
Bruce Mayhew is an executive coach, corporate trainer & conference speaker. He specializes in soft skills like leadership development, generational differences, difficult conversations training, change management, time management and email etiquette.