Management is about the hard skills required to run a business or accomplish tasks. On the other hand, leadership involves softer skills that focus more on maximizing employees’ abilities and performance through inspiration and development. Leadership and management are not the same, and it’s fair to say you need both in your organization. John Kotter, a leadership expert, has noted the importance of this balance: “The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance each other.”
The reality, for any leader, is it’s impossible to make your employees stay, make them perform at their best, and it’s certainly impossible to make them take care of your customers. These are “inside jobs”—they must want this for themselves. However, the best leaders create experiences that inspire employees to want to become and deliver their best.
Here are four ways managers can become inspirational leaders:
As a manager, your passion needs to come from loving the job. Employees are naturally attracted to those with passion, and that passion is contagious. While some managers lose their passion over the years, others never had it. They’ve progressed in an industry or at a job without being excited about what they do or for whom they do it. But, without passion, leaders cannot inspire or motivate others to want to do what they want them to do. If you do not love what you do, be honest with yourself and consider a change. Life is way too short to be doing something you care little about.
When it comes to effort, staff members need to see their manager’s effort in action—it’s best they see it right alongside their teammates. Managers must be willing to get in and help, be there when it is busy, step in for the staff when customers do not play nice, or just show up and take care of things.
When managers get into the operation or work alongside the staff, they can coach, communicate, lead by example, show off skills, and provide a sense of calm when things go wrong; all of which earn the respect of everyone on the team. When managers commit to the people they work with, they become inspirational leaders, as people become more inspired with each minute their manager works with them instead of over them.
3. Expertise and Experience
To gain credibility and inspire others to want to do well, managers must use their expertise and experience. Managers have to know what to do and have the confidence and credibility to share their knowledge with those they lead. Knowing their stuff allows managers to excel in the coaching role and better help their team perform at the highest level.
As experts, managers must be committed to learning and have a certain curiosity about how to improve. They look both inside and outside of their industry to see who is doing what, connect with other experts, and are willing to challenge the company’s and their way of doing things. However, managers don’t have to know it all to be experts, but they do have to be willing to find out who does know when they do not. In fact, great managers transform into inspirational leaders when they develop an unending thirst for knowledge and learning. Ultimately, learning is aligned closely with leadership, because once you think you know it all and stop growing, you can no longer influence growth in others.
The only way to inspire teams is to care about them. The old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” applies today more than ever. Show an interest in your people beyond the job they do. Respect them, which means recognizing them and seeing what they do. By caring for your people, you allow them to be comfortable and confident in their roles and their future with the company.
Bringing It All Together:
• Remember, a title does not make a person a leader; the person makes that title come to life with a combination of passion, effort, expertise, and caring.
• Find your passion and help others find theirs.
• Put in the same effort you expect from those you lead.
• Never stop learning, growing, and developing your knowledge base; share what you learn with others.
• Show people you care by giving a little more of your time and talent to help them feel more comfortable and confident