Inspiring and Leading Colleagues in the Workplace
How many positions in the world are occupied by employees who are uninspired or do not feel as if they are supported at work but are merely there to meet numbers or check the boxes and then go home? The official numbers suggest that about 80% of employees are not passionate about their jobs – that’s a lot of people out there just checking the boxes to get through the day.
To lack passion for a position means there is an absence of inspiration and of true enjoyment. Without these there is no innovation and no ambition to improve, and could even feel a lack of security in the position.
The catalyst in changing many of these situations is leadership; effective, inspiring leadership that makes people want to show up to work, do their best and drive innovation rather than just check the boxes.
One of the most difficult tasks as a leadership figure in any capacity is giving those you lead a reason to buy into your cause or your goal – this is often referred to as the “why”. In the workplace this can often get lost in translation as many see the goal as making money or selling a product.
Good leaders find the why of their organization, team, and position and share it amongst their peers so they can unite in a concrete goal bigger than themselves and proceed to work towards it together. If people are united around a common goal and understand why their organization does what they do, they are more likely to collaborate and produce a final product people want.
When asking 10 people on their perspective on what makes a good leader, Forbes found that many of the answers focused on people involved and their respective needs/strengths.
Leadership & connection
On a basic level, leadership is about connecting with other people, not leading or directing employees, connecting with people. The most effective leaders in many instances are the ones who see their colleagues as people and connect with them on a deeper level than directions and evaluations.
Sharing goals or past experiences with colleagues can help bring them together past the emails that they share.
This level of human connection with leadership figures means that those who work around them gain a sense of trust, involvement and loyalty. Three attributes of a workplace that can dramatically change how a group of people function together if they just feel like they are connected and believe in one another.
A memorable quote to sum up leadership and connection is one you have undoubtedly come across before – “people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but never forget how you made them feel.”
Good leaders make you feel something other than stress for a deadline or quotas.
What makes a good leader?
When you think of a good leader, is it someone who stands at the head of the ship giving the orders? Or the one who is working with their crew sharing in the collective process and taking time to listen to their team?
Most will echo the sentiment that the second leader is the one they want to follow, and for good reason; leaders who are present and add value to their team, are passionate about their position, and innovate also give their colleagues a sense of security in order to do the same.
When you feel secure in your role and not like an expendable member of the organization, the ability to innovate and give your all to a task is stronger since risks are not going to result in the loss of your job. Good leadership creates an environment to prosper and grow, inspiring others while creating a sense of security and trust, rather than fear and habits of checking the boxes and get out.
Authenticity is a growing buzzword in the realm of leadership and self-improvement, it is the act of living as you are and being open with your thoughts and feelings, as opposed to conforming to “fit the mold”. It is seen by many as a life lesson to living a more fulfilled life.
In leadership and at work, it has a similar impact. You can immediately pick up when a workplace is filled with people who are authentic and their true selves; it feels more open and inviting than an environment that suppresses personality and does not leave room for people to be people.
Authenticity as a leader
Authentic leaders create a sense of purpose or passion while remaining grounded in where they came from and not losing their sense of self. The sense of genuine communication and trust is what builds the groundwork for an environment for people to grow and prosper.
One of the best way to lead authentically is to express vulnerability, this does not mean you have to open up to your team about your deepest emotions. But being honest about where your strengths and weaknesses lie and surrounding yourself with people who can help fill those gaps. This not only creates the trust that is so important but will bind your team together since they all have roles that support one another.
Growing leadership skills
Leadership is not reserved for management and C-suite positions. You see it in any group-centric environment, the best leader can be a regular employee who has knowledge and connection, working to uplift those around them.
Leadership skills are often thought of as organization, direction and delegating tasks. But in reality leadership skills are everything mentioned up until this point and exceedingly people focused.
Practicing authenticity, vulnerability, communication and moving with purpose can lead to unlocking leadership skills. Fostering these basic connections and creating environments where those around you feel supported in their efforts goes a long way.
Inspiration as a leader
Many may think of inspiration as a highly charged speech or actions that are seen as a rallying call for those around them, but as anyone who has heard one of these speeches knows the feeling can be short-lived.
Inspiring others as a leader day in and day out means small, repeated movements and messages that uplift those around a leader. Inclusion, passion for the role and integrity all inspire others as they feel safe and believed in by their peers.
A good analogy to describe this is that repeated connection and fostering of relationships is akin to continued watering of plants, and as you water them the plant will grow. The more you water your relationships at work the higher they will achieve. You don’t plant a seed and leave it without water to grow, you must water it and ensure it has the necessary environment and nutrients to grow.
Inspiration is no different. Inspire and lead those around you whether as a manager or colleague through your relationships with them and watering their plants. The misconception that work relationships should be void of connection and authenticity is the very reason that many offices today are void of true leadership. People don’t stop being people when they sit down at their desk and they work best when they are seen as such.