It has become clear to many commentators on organisational dynamics, that people will no longer respond to command-and-control leadership. They don’t want to do things because someone else tells them to, but because they want to do them.
So, what can leaders do to exert influence and effect a bigger impact in their people? We focus today on the necessary mind-shifts that leaders and managers need to make, to motivate their people successfully. It begins by seeing their people in a bigger, positive and more empowering way.
It is not just Millenials who we have previously identified as wanting the power to exercise their own abilities in progressing the organisation for whom they work. It is now a larger and wider part of the work-force – the collective intelligence, if you like – that seeks to exercise its will to make a constructive difference. Such thinking has evolved, so that in addition to wanting the power to exercise their own decision making and abilities in organising and delivering their work, they want to feel they are a part of something bigger, something that is contributing to making the world a better place.
In response to this significant change, the role of leaders and managers needs to evolve as well, as they come to realise that they are in service to the people who work for them. Their role is to help them grow and develop, for their own benefit and for the benefit of their organisation. Creating an environment to be able to empower people derives from having this kind of mindset.
Sometimes great leadership means getting out of the way and letting people unleash their creativity to address and solve some of the challenges of the organisation for whom they work.
When coaching individuals – which we do a lot (our tag line after all, is ‘working with individuals to transform organisations’) we are able to dig deep into the psyche, strengths and abilities of those individuals. We see individuals as multi-layered beings, multi-talented with depths of sensitivity, awareness and comprehension, creativity and capabilities that need to see the light of day.
I’m often surprised that these talents and depths are often not recognised, either by their managers, or their leaders. Managers often focus on what their people don’t do well. They seem to forget, ignore or go blank to the idea that the people who work for them are intelligent, competent and capable of thinking for themselves and able to resolve problems without direction or micro-management.
This bias to negative thinking is a detrimental motivation tool. It has the power to negate people’s natural motivation to do well, to take initiatives.
A better way to motivate staff effectively, is to remember that each person who works for you or alongside you, is as multi-talented and intelligent as yourself! And sometimes, even more intelligent or talented! By allowing yourself to think in this way, ideas for how those individuals can be empowered to think and act using their own initiative will come to you.
Because every person has talents that they have not yet expressed. It takes an external problem or challenge for them to address it directly. But they need you to step out of the way and enable them to do it. Maybe they won’t do it in precisely the same way as you might, but in different ways, and perhaps in ways more suited to the problems and challenges facing them.
I have been privileged to see this about each and every person I have coached. I have seen people’s unique talents, strengths and many facets of their intelligence. I have witnessed the competence and skills which they have brought out of their personal reservoirs of hidden depths to deal with their challenging circumstances. Each individual, however dim or narrow in their role, has talents awaiting exploration and release.
Great managers extend the credit that such people have, to provide them opportunities to exercise, allow them to learn, to fail and then to succeed.
The long term results of such a strategy leads to increased confidence, capability and performance. The results not only accrue to the individual, but also to the team, and if the strategy is applied to all workers, then to the whole organisation.
So leaders and managers, by thinking better of people, expecting more of them than even of yourself, you may be astonished in how accomplished they can demonstrate to you they are!
12 February 2023