Exceptional Leadership Inspires the Best Effort in OthersWritten by Michael Beck
There is a steady stream being written and taught about leadership these days. There are tips about leadership, courses about leadership, books, retreats, and continuing education – all focused on leadership. While all of this material is useful and can certainly enhance one’s leadership knowledge, for most part it avoids asking and answering two questions:
1. Why does better leadership make a difference? , and 2. How does better leadership achieve those differences?
We all know we’re “supposed” to work to be better leaders, but why does it matter, what impact does it have, and how does this all work?
Whenever I ask “Why” question, answers that come to mind of most people are something like “better leadership creates more productivity, higher profits, lower turnover, greater job satisfaction, more loyalty… you get picture. But these responses bring us to real question which is, “How does better leadership create those things? How does being a better leader lead to more productivity, higher profits, lower turnover, greater job satisfaction, more loyalty?” It is answers to these two questions which elevate us from simply learning and understanding better leadership principles to pursuing a course of action which transforms us and our leadership abilities into something that really makes a difference.
I often suggest that my clients use their own experience as their best example. Ask yourself when, during your career, you felt most satisfied, most productive, proudest, most focused, and most committed. When we reflect back on those times, most of us would acknowledge that we didn’t feel like we did because our “leader” had made a good decision, or that they had gone through “leadership training” (That term is in quotes because leaders need to be developed, not trained.), or that their leaders were efficient, met their goals, or had success in past. No, typically we felt way we did (satisfied, productive, proud, focused, and committed) because of what we did – what we accomplished. It all comes back to us and how we felt. It’s generally not about anything external – it comes down to our emotions. The key to exceptional leadership, therefore, lies within our ability to relate effectively with people and their emotions.
Imagine if everyone at work felt satisfied, productive, proud, focused, and committed! What would consequences be? The consequences would be that everyone would create greater productivity, higher profits, lower turnover, greater job satisfaction, and more loyalty! The key then, to better performance, is helping people feel more satisfied, productive, proud, focused, and committed. Notice absence of any technical or intelligence issues? Notice that we’ve haven’t brought up idea of “motivating” people? We haven’t touched on motivating people for one simple reason… people can’t be motivated! Trying to motivate someone is analogous to physically trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do. You won’t succeed. What really works is when we’re self-motivated – when we do something because we want to. When we’re inspired, we enjoy our work. We’re productive and proud of our efforts. We remain focused and committed to task at hand. In short, we put forth out best effort.
Exceptional leadership, therefore, is leadership that inspires people to give their best effort. Although, for a leader, being productive and having good time management skills are important and necessary, they are not sufficient. Having good judgment becomes increasingly important higher in an organization we rise, however it too is insufficient for truly effective leadership. Exceptional leadership is about relating to people in such a way as to inspire them to give their best effort – for themselves, their organization, their community, their family, and/or their world.
How is this accomplished? The foundation of exceptional leadership – of inspiring others – comprises thee areas - Effective Leadership Philosophies (for yourself and your organization), Effective Purpose, Mission and Values, and Effective People Skills.
* EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHIES
Leading by Example - Whether we acknowledge it or not, we always lead by example. In our words (what we say or don't say), in our actions (what we do or don't do), and in our expressions (what we show or don't show). The things we do and say, during moments of “apparent insignificance”, make an impression on those around us.
How to Attract and Retain the Right PeopleWritten by Michael Beck
If you’re one of many executives struggling with finding and keeping right people to propel your business forward, you’ll find these insights helpful.
If you’re frustrated by trying to motivate people, work instead to develop a company where people are self-motivated – where they do things because they want to. When we’re inspired, we enjoy our work, we’re productive, and we’re proud of our efforts. We remain focused and committed to task at hand. In short, we put forth out best effort.
An organization will attract and retain a team of people dedicated to success of organization and its goals when it has a Purpose, a Mission, and a set of Values that it lives by, effectively communicates them throughout organization, and measures its actions and decisions against them. Let’s define what Purpose, Mission and Values are and talk about implications of having them clearly defined and embodied in organization.
Purpose: Purpose is "WHY" of equation. Purpose defines why we do what we do. It defines why we go to work each day. Without purpose, people just go through motions and as most of us know, there’s a great difference between activity and achievement. Having a purpose creates a yardstick, so to speak, to measure our decisions against. It helps us become passionate, helps us to select among many options presented to us, helps us make better hiring decisions, and keeps us on track. It’s possible to succeed without a clear purpose, but having one speeds and magnifies results.
When a company has a clearly defined purpose it begins to act as a magnet, attracting kind of people who will further purpose; people who are like-minded. Not only will having a purpose retain right people, but it will also act to attract them. This is power behind success of many not-for-profit organizations. Although they often are unable to pay their staff great sums of money, they continue to attract and retain people who are dedicated and who work hard to achieve purpose of organization. While your organization’s purpose may not be as altruistic as a not-for-profit’s purpose, it definitely plays an important, almost critical, role.
How you develop a meaningful purpose? Involve people throughout organization in order to develop and distill essence of why your organization exists. Don’t simply rely on executive team to develop and then dictate purpose to group. And certainly don’t rely on an outside company to create your purpose for you! It has been my experience that a well-defined statement of purpose is a single sentence, crafted to capture essence of “why” organization exists using as few words as possible and resonating when read or spoken. This brings clarity and energy to it, and makes it much easier to keep in mind when making decisions and policies.