If there is one question which I get asked more than any other, even more than are leaders born or made, it’s: what does it take to become an Inspiring Leader?
I have a strong belief that Inspiring Leadership can move mountains and can help us make significant improvements in performance and results, but also that we lack inspirational leaders. Its always been a dream, a mission to help increase the number of Inspiring Leaders in the world – god knows we need some.
I have given a lot of thought to this, and have even started to develop a model for it. It’s still in it’s early stages, but I believe that for Inspiring Leaders we need to have a good combinations of:
- Emotional Intelligence, so that we know ourselves, our values, such that we can act with integrity and authenticity, which allows us to build trust which is essential to inspiring leadership.
- Social Intelligence, the ability to be able to connect with people, build networks, communicate in a way that allows us to build strong teams, and
- Delivery Capability, which is the right level of focus, determination, and the management skills needed to be able achieve results; as we can’t be considered a good leader without good results, let alone an Inspiring leader.
In order to become an Inspiring Leader we need to work on developing in all three of these areas, and if we are lacking in any one area then this will stop us from becoming an inspiring leaders.
When we first get assigned to leadership or management roles it’s usually because of our delivery capability. I know that this was the case for myself. And when you’re in a team leading, or hands-on leadership role, its possible to be relatively successful with strong DQ, but with deficiencies in the other areas, using your drive to push projects through to successful completion.
But it’s when you move into leading larger teams or departments, with multiple layers of management, or virtual teams where you don’t have line management responsibility, that the ability to Influence becomes so much more important. It’s impossible to create large cohesive teams that will buy-in to your vision if you lack the authenticity and social skills needed to connect with the teams. Drive alone is not enough, there are too many components involved for you to be able to successfully complete projects through force of personality alone.
It’s teams and teamwork that deliver the success, the delivery capability of the leader is less relevant, as their hands-on involvement becomes less.
We need to mobilise teams, creating motivation and momentum
This was definitely the case for me, I have very strong delivery capabilities but as I progressed up the ranks, I needed to focus much more on my EQ and SQ, as I needed them to become multipliers of my delivery capability, so that I could have a bigger impact by achieving larger results through others.
So I had to become much more aware of the needs of others: how to engage, motivate and empower them as these were the keys to larger successes. It wasn’t an easy transition to make, you have to give up the belief that it’s you that is key to delivery, and start to believe it’s all about the team.
It’s about becoming a servant for your team, making them the heroes rather than being the hero yourself
It’s obvious that 10 heroes can achieve more than one, but when you are that one hero, that means you giving up on being the hero. It’s now your job to create more heroes. To do that it needs a very good understanding of self, your role as leader, and if you are a driver driver personality type it can be really tough to give up wanting to be the hero.
We have to be happy with reflected glory rather than personal glory, because it’s now the team that has achieved the results and we have to give them all the credit. If we do that then we will increase their motivation and productivity, we will have made them feel like heroes.
Whereas if we try to take all the credit for ourselves and remain the hero, and we have all seen this happen, then it just kills team morale and leads to dysfunctional demotivated teams. So to be an Inspiring Leader we need work to develop ourselves, our ability to build connected teams and our delivery capability.
Good delivery capability will give our teams confidence that we know what needs to be done in order to be successful, and this will allow them to have confidence is us as leaders, and also allow us to be able to build confidence in our teams. A good understanding ourselves and our values, will help us with lead integrity, which will then help build trust between ourselves and our teams.
Team building via social skills, such as connecting with people, the use of empathy, and putting people first and looking to develop them will help us to build powerful motivated teams.
And when people have trust and confidence in their leader, confidence in themselves and are motivated, then we will have an inspired team.
It’s only when you have an inspired team that you can consider yourself an Inspiring Leader.
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