I recently came across “Inspirational Leadership” as a core leadership competency on the Government of Canada’s website. Although it’s written for public servants, one part of the definition caught my eye: to provide motivational support employees need to grow and the empowerment and accountability to take responsibility for their own success.
Imagine having managers in your company who make it their responsibility to do exactly this with their direct reports? How might this kind of inspiration affect your company’s bottom line?
Inspiration’s a key motivator for employees. A good manager inspires their employees and teams a number of ways. They listen, ask questions and make it a priority to help others make the connection between the organization’s vision and goals with that employee’s or team’s specific accountabilities.
Great managers create a culture of curiosity and creativity. They know the strengths of their employees and make way for them to express their talents.
The result is employees who feel heard, valued and and connected to the bigger picture. This translates to being engaged and motivated.
According to Gallup, highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism, 24% lower turnover and a 17% increase in productivity. Those are pretty substantial statistics.
Unfortunately many of us have experienced low motivation and inspiration in our work.
According to O.C. Tanner, an employee recognition and reward solutions company, more than 1 in 4 employees don’t trust their direct manager. It’s no surprise then that only half say their manager motivates them to do their best work.
If we don’t trust our manager, it’s highly unlikely they will inspire us. This can result in lessened enthusiasm for doing one’s best or a growing culture of negative behaviors by team members. Whatever the outcome, lack of inspiration can spread throughout the organization like wildfire.
What does inspiration really look like? How does a great manager inspire?
Inspiration begins with the manager who makes it their purpose to hold others up rather than hold him or herself up. They recognize great work in others and use feedback as a respectful tool for learning. Abundance is the perspective of a great senior leader; they’re willing to share what they know and get out of the way when they should.
The problem in many organizations is that senior leaders assume when they promote or hire a new manager that they’ll come with all the skills and traits necessary to be an effective manager. And that’s a mistake because there are very few “naturally great” managers.
So what’s the solution? Support and development.
Managers, especially new ones, need an array of tools and experiences that expose them to new perspectives and the soft people skills. And they need this before they develop habits that won’t serve them or their teams well.
From an ROI perspective, investing in managers early in their career can result in huge savings later on: the loss of productivity and revenue plus the cost of high turnover will be far greater than money spent at the beginning of a manager’s career.
If we want motivated employees, we need to develop managers who inspire. This means investing in managers to develop strong skills for leading people effectively – early in their career.