How Leaders Can Inspire the Strongest Performance From Their Employees

It is important for leaders to look deeply at themselves to evaluate their ability to inspire.

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Of all the competencies that we value in leaders, it is the ability to inspire and be inspirational that rises to the top for me. To some this is natural, to others, it is learned and practiced. To me, this is a requirement for leaders – people want to work for people they know, like, and trust. In short, people want to follow people that they can believe in – and are inspired by.

We work with leaders and managers every day on their individual understanding of what it means to inspire. For each person, it provokes distinct thoughts, feelings, and definitions. It is important for leaders to look deeply at themselves to evaluate their ability to inspire and be inspiring. Additionally, there are other things leaders can do to inspire performance:

  1. Inspiration is about providing clarity. All leaders and employees need to know, understand and embrace the foundational elements of the company. When leaders are clear with their vision and belief system, people are willing to follow.
  2. Performance is driven not just by the environment, rather by expectations leaders set. When people know what is expected and understand their role in the success of the company, they will go far beyond what is expected. We impede people when we do not set expectations.
  3. Create a culture of positivity and inspiration. Many organizations frame their culture on ambiguous values. Instead, choose powerful phrases and create definition and meaning. Then, add behaviors that help to provide clarity and connect the people across the company with shared ways of working and being.
  4. Reject the concept of compliance. Many companies are allowing a compliant mindset and culture to actually derail performance. This is encouraging employees to perform up to or down to in many instances, the lowest common standard. When we embrace commitment over compliance, we are erasing the bar and allowing employees the freedom to perform.
  5. Humanize connections across the company and workforce. When we humanize connections, we actively work to create more intentional and purposeful relationships. It is up to the leader to shun the corporatization that is seeping into business and become more vulnerable, more honest, more open – more human.
  6. Create a collaborative, accepting environment where 100% of the truth becomes the norm. There are too many conversations where leaders are overly cautious and dangerously politically correct. Everyone is talking but no one is saying what they really mean or need to say.
  7. Choose recognition over reward. While rewards are important, recognition by leaders and peers creates a different level of performance that is more durable and sustaining. Find ways, both formal and informal, to recognize and to empower people around you. It changes and inspires them, the people around them and you!

Being inspirational is about being real. It is about setting real expectations and clear pathways for what can be achieved. It is about connecting with others on a very personal, more human level. It is about expressing vulnerability. It is about leading – not simply managing. It is about eliminating fear in the workplace. It is about embracing positivity as a leadership methodology. It is about understanding ourselves as the leader and being committed in our own development and ability to inspire. Being inspirational is leading with clarity of purpose, value, and direction.

Originally published on Quora. 

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