12 Behaviors You Can Practice to Make You a More Inspiring Leader
Jack Zenger, Joe Folkman and Scott Edinger conducted a four year study of over 200,000 responses describing 20,000 leaders to determine what makes an outstanding leader. The results pointed to the fact that the ability to “inspire and motivate to high performance” was the single most powerful predictor of being perceived as an extraordinary leader.
It was the best predictor of overall ratings of leadership effectiveness by direct reports, peers, and managers, it was the quality most valued by employees, and it was the factor most correlated with employee commitment and satisfaction. And it was found to be cross-generational.
Inspiration, they point out in The Inspiring Leader
, is not sufficient in and of itself. “Its power comes when it is placed in combination with other leadership attributes.” It works as a catalyst. Throughout the book, they discuss a large number of steps you should consider to become a more inspiring leader, but here are a selection of twelve behaviors that you can apply now:
- Use emotions more frequently and be attuned to the emotions of those around you. For example, express heartfelt appreciation, get excited about organizational success. Show energy and enthusiasm.
- Reach out to people. Find more ways to interact with your subordinates. Practice management by walking around. Initiate conversations and be constructive.
- Set an aggressive target. With the involvement of your team members, set a target that will stretch the group.
- Create a vivid picture of the organization three years from now. Get each person to identify how this affects their job. Align systems and initiatives around the vision.
- Practice lavish communication. Take the time to be inclusive by being diligent in passing on information that you collect to your colleagues. Controlling information is not inspiring.
- Delegate tasks with the development of the other person in mind. Delegation can be elevated to an important discussion and can be wrapped with important messages that inspire and that generate positive motivation. “I see this project as a real opportunity to help you develop your skills in….”
- Make having a personal development plan a priority and review it at least twice a year. Create positive consequences for having a personal development plan in place and for pursuing it.
- Schedule regular coaching sessions with each subordinate. Make yourself available. Also, leaders who are strong in self-development are very frequently rated higher on their ability to coach and develop others.
- Involve more people in decision making on every important issue. Seeking the opinion of others communicates that what they are doing is important and it conveys respect and appreciation and strengthens the bond with the leader.
- Shower positive attention on new ideas. If you have a “no” approach to new ideas, you will unwittingly close down creativity and innovation. If you don’t know, ask those who work for you, they’ll know.
- Be the example. Demonstrate to your colleagues with your actions what is valued by the organization. You may also need to selectively model behaviors that need to be emphasized in the organization. A “do as I do” approach.
- Take the first step. Be the one to initiate changes, projects, or communication that is necessary for the organization. Nothing says leader like being the initiator.