Are you running your business or leading your business? Do you have the sense that your employees come to work each day, put in the required time and effort, then leave without a second thought? What are you doing so the people who give so much of their lives to your business don’t feel like cogs in a machine?
Employees who feel little or no emotional connection to their work don’t give all they have, nor do they tend to stick around for very long. To ensure the long-range success of your business, it’s absolutely critical to inspire these men and women, to give them a sense of purpose and meaning so they feel committed to doing their best. Here are some suggestions for imbuing inspiration in your leadership role:
Give them a story. Your business has a story, though your employees may not know what it is. . We’re all hard-wired to connect to a larger narrative and when you can tell that story, people will better understand their roles and contributions.
This story encompasses the origins of your company, the customers you serve and the needs your products or services fulfill—and it includes where the business is headed. A visionary leader is an inspiring leader. A critically important part of your job as a leader is having a vision of where the business will be, one year, three years, even five years from now. When you share this with your executive team and the rest of your workforce, people can identify how they fit into the vision and feel inspired to help make that vision a reality. Otherwise, all they’re doing is going through the motions.
Be generous with praise. Nothing inspires employees more than being praised for their efforts. If you notice you’re doling out more critical comments than positive feedback, consider the morale-boosting value of singling out peoples’ contributions and making “heroes” of them in the workplace. (Incidentally, you can really only achieve this goal by making yourself visible in the office and interacting with employees every chance you get.) The same holds true for responding favorably to your staff’s ideas and suggestions for improvement.
Focus on your team’s growth. How well do you know your various employees’ strengths and talents? There should be a process in place by which these skills are recognized and encouraged, thus benefiting both the individual and your business. If you’re afraid that accelerating the growth of a senior executive may hasten her departure from the business, how much value are you losing in the meantime? People want to grow. Many of them hope to be leaders themselves one day. Wouldn’t you like to be a key driver in that person’s success?
Share information freely. The ongoing health of your business depends on the flow of information. Of course, some information must be shared on a need-to-know basis, but not as much as many business leaders think. If you want employees to think independently and make knowledgeable decisions on their own, you must share what you can to make that happen. Controlling what you know or distributing it grudgingly will not inspire greater efforts from your staff.
Be an inspiring role model. The single most inspiring thing you can do as a leader is model the behavior you seek to find in others. Are you passionate about your business? About the people who work for you? About the customers you serve? If so, don’t hesitate to show that passion. Your energy and enthusiasm are infectious. Let others see how your passion drives you, every day. They will feed off this excitement and share your passion as well.
If you’re ready to ready to grow as a leader and actively inspire the people who work for you, join other CEOs, managers and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.