We are put in leadership positions in many walks of our lives whether it’s in a business setting, family or friendship circle and in all these settings leaders have a privileged responsibility to inspire their teams to achieve greatness. According to Jack Welch, an icon of business leadership, “when you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” This responsibility exists without any doubt in the relationship that parents have with their children. From the day a child is born, the parent has the ultimate responsibility of creating an environment which will enable the child to thrive and be the best they can possibly be. Many leaders neglect this responsibility and expect people to follow them because of their title, place in the company or circle of influence and many will follow a leader for these reasons but that does not mean they are inspired by their leader or that their leader is inspiring their best work. If you have not been inspirational lately, it’s never too late to start developing or enhancing this crucial leadership competency and you can start by acting upon these four areas with genuine interest.
- Be approachable – Do not be an elusive leader. Break down the hierarchical barriers and allow your teams to get to know you, to know the path that has gotten you here including tales of how you handled challenging situations in the past. Being approachable will also allow you to have the much-needed human connection which is often missing in the workplace.
- Be an authentic role model – As a leader, you must set the standard for acceptable behaviour and be the change you want to see. If as the leader you are perpetuating an unacceptable behaviour, there is nothing more important than first improving yourself to effect change in your teams because everyone is watching you and modelling everything they do and say based on your behaviour. Resolve to be a leader who strives for authenticity to genuinely build trust with your teams.
- Invest in others – “We rise by lifting others.” Create time to mentor others and even better, elevate some of your mentorship relationships to sponsorship relationships. As a sponsor, you will do more than just listen, give advice and guide but will be more hands on in providing feedback, seeking opportunities and advocating on behalf of the individuals you will decide to invest in. Because you will be making an investment and putting your social capital on the line, you will do everything possible to ensure that the individuals you sponsor or your protégés achieve great success.
- Invest in yourself – Take a break and recharge. If your teams are looking for inspiration, you will not be able to give them what they are looking for if you are running on empty. It’s critical that you are taking care of yourself, maintaining high levels of positivity and managing your stress because you will not be useful to your teams and in the long run you will become the grumpy boss or parent. Self-care will go a long way in ensuring that you continue to influence your environment in a positive way.
Becoming an inspirational leader will require more than the few actions outlined in this article but a change in mindset of why you were put in a position to lead others will be a change in the right direction. Ultimately, nothing is more fulfilling to a leader than when you have contributed to an environment where many people have blossomed, grown and eventually become leaders themselves. Are you ready to put down your “crown” to serve your teams?