By Maura Fay Learning
Empowering and Inspiring our People
Leading people is exhilarating, rewarding and a reason to get out of bed every morning and come to work. It’s also tough. It’s one of the hardest things to do as a manager, if not the hardest. If you were a fly on the wall of a conversation between a manager and an external coach, you would notice that the majority of time in that conversation is not spent on operations, customer engagement or financials … surprise surprise, it’s on people.
So we introduce our workforce capability, ‘Empowering and Inspiring our People’ as a direct response to the challenges and opportunities faced by leaders today, to get the best from their teams. Granted, it’s probably not the starting point for leadership development; it’s assumed that managers would already have the leadership fundamentals in place before tackling a capability like this.
Let’s start with the concept of inspiring others. There is still a misconception today that an inspiring leader must be the 24/7 cheerleader, someone responsible for maintaining the positive energy in the team. Yes there is a time and place however inspiring people goes a little deeper than this.
There are two types of inspiration for leaders to consider with their teams: one being in the moment inspiration dependent on the psyche of the team at the time and the other being ongoing or more foundational inspiration.
In The Moment Inspiration
There are various times when a leader needs to respond in the moment and inspire the team. It might be when …
In all of these scenarios, it’s time for the leader to step-in, step-up and ‘move’ people by reaching in and filling their hearts from deeper sources of meaning. It’s much bigger than a fireside chat from the leader or some light reassurance that everything will be OK – it requires a deep understanding of the team and the ability to elevate the conversation at the right time.
There are obvious and not so obvious times when leaders need to fill their people with ‘spirit’. A great leader can sense this in others and respond swiftly and appropriately even when they have a million other things on their plate.
If a leader is spending all of their leadership time topping up the ‘spirit’ bank accounts of their team then not only is this exhausting for the leader, chances are there’s a breakdown somewhere else. It might be that the leader has the wrong people on the bus or the right people in the wrong seats; people that need to be inspired all the time might indicate that the role or the environment is not right for them. Equally it could also mean that the leader is doing something or not doing something that is creating this behaviour.
Great leaders also view inspiration as more long-term, to create an environment where teams have the skills and mindset to do extraordinary things, as if it were their own business; a place where people own the result, take the lead in their careers and ask for more responsibility. It’s not a reaction to a specific scenario but a way of leading the team every day. For the leader, this requires clarity of vision but also a game plan to maximise the potential of each individual on the team.
Just as leading people can be tough, so can knowing when and how to inspire them. At Maura Fay Learning we have adapted the work from author Daniel Pink and created the following four-part model to assist leaders empower and inspire their teams. Based on a balance of in the moment and foundational inspiration, we have provided you with a range of self-reflection questions to help you get started.
All the best in your leadership endeavours and continue to enjoy the privilege of leading others.