Inspirational leadership is a highly prized quality. But what does it mean to be a ‘leader’? Should you inspire, motivate and build confidence? Or should you use fear, intimidation and force? Quality Formations CEO Graeme Donnelly explains how inspirational leadership is key to a successful workforce
If you want to get the most out of your workers, lay off the heavy handed tactics. While these methods can yield extremely effective results, they’re also a barrier to optimal productivity and employee retention. And in the long run, you’ll damage morale and create problems. No one likes a tyrant.
Your workforce needs to trust you and understand what you’re trying to achieve. Lead by example and inspire them to share your vision and goals. Empower your team, don’t scare them into compliance. Anxious and intimidated workers will be reluctant to approach you and unable to communicate effectively. You’ll simply end up with an unhappy, disillusioned and ineffective workforce that spends its spare time scouring the classifieds.
Don’t just talk – communicate. This has nothing to do with your intelligence or dazzling charm. It’s about engaging in discussion and actually listening to your employees. Clear and effective communication is one of the best ways to motivate others and improve organisational productivity. If your employees don’t understand your vision or believe in what you’re trying to do, they’re not going to feel passionate about their work. Their purpose needs to make sense.
Be consistent with your message and behaviour. Erratic leadership is confusing and unsettling. Make sure you know what you want and what you’re hoping to achieve before communicating the message to other people.
If you’re constantly changing direction, no one will be able to follow you. If your attitude and mood are as unpredictable as the weather, you’ll create tension, uncertainty and distrust. If you don’t want other people to behave in this manner, don’t set a bad example for them.
Praise and reward hard work and recognise achievement. Don’t just berate failings or shortcomings. If you only focus on the negatives, you’ll damage confidence and morale. This will simply result in more negativity in the workplace.
Never, ever reprimand an employee in front of their colleagues. This is a counterproductive tactic because most people do not react well to humiliation. You will damage employee relations and your own reputation as a leader. A little bit of consideration and respect goes a long way.
View each employee as an individual person, not just a job title or subordinate. If you want to earn respect, you need to be empathetic to the needs of your employees and treat them with respect. This doesn’t mean you have to try to be their best friend. It’s about being genuine, considerate and professional. By doing so, they’ll be inspired to work harder to please you.
Building and retaining trust is one of the most difficult aspects of any relationship. If you want to foster trust in the workplace, your employees need to believe that your intentions are genuine and your word is your bond. Be honest, open and honourable. There’s no guarantee that every employee will possess the same qualities, but there’s no benefit to be had from encouraging dishonesty and distrust through example.
Graeme Donnnelly is a member of IoD London