I train many leaders and we often talk about working proactively rather than reactively. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced leaders that they have to always be running around reacting to people and events in order to make their organizations thrive. While I agree that success requires constant and deliberate action, many people squander much of their day on busy work that they don’t really need to do or that they could delegate in some way.
Those who perspire spend their day running from one emergency to the next and putting out fires. They don’t have time to think or plan because they’re too busy reacting to whatever comes their way. Leaders who inspire function more deliberately. They plan beforehand and have procedures in place to deal with emergencies. Last minute chaos is much rarer because they have trained people to expect the unexpected and have policies and procedures to deal with contingencies. This frees up the leader to focus on inspiring her employees. Here are some of the characteristics of an inspirational leader:
- Helps people be content in their job.
- Communicates openly and respectfully.
- Helps people grow.
- Supports innovative thinking.
- Shares information openly.
- Praises employees regularly and consistently.
- Focuses on employees’ strengths, skills and abilities.
- Offers opportunities for education and career advancement.
- Prioritizes and plans his or her own day well.
- Involves staff in planning.
- Models positive behavior.
- Behaves with kindness and empathy.
- Educates instead of punishes (and only when requested).
- Gets out of the way.
- Is open to new ideas.
- Delegates well and frequently.
Think about yourself and whether you practice the ideas above. Enlightened leaders practice these behaviors the majority of their work day, 90% of the time or more. Those who become adept at behaving this way are able to inspire their staff.
Being an inspirational leader doesn’t mean you have to change your personality, it just requires thinking about how you behave and how it affects others. Once you become skilled at practicing the ideas we’ve talked about here, you’ll find that you inspire staff to do more and to grow because you believe in them and encourage them to do their best. What will you do to inspire more and perspire less?