The key to effective leadership is something we are all searching for. Some leaders think it is all about developing a brilliant strategy. Other leaders place emphasis on systems and structures. Still other leaders argue that the golden key is found in compensation, incentive, and rewards. Finally, some leaders put all of their attention into modeling the way hoping something will catch on in the process. While all of these methods need to be in place, I have learned that none of these can bring about impact and influence in another person’s life all by themselves.
From my experience in working with leaders, teams, and organizations, I believe that the key to effective leadership is found in your ability to inspire, impact, and influence other people to grow as leaders and achieve a goal – i.e. your “leadership effectiveness.” James MacGregor Burns in his appropriately, yet simply titled book Leadership said it this way:
“…the transforming leader looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower. The result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents.”
You can articulate a super strategy, implement seamless processes and structures, and roll out a rewards structure that creates potential financial success; but if you can’t tap into the motives and needs of the people you lead, you will never engage the full person into affecting long-term change – in themselves and in their organization.
Where this hits closest to home for me is my actual home. I am a husband and a father of five boys and have important leadership responsibilities in both of these roles. I don’t always lead in an effective manner and in a way that is achieving the results and, more importantly, the goals of my calling as a husband and father. Sometimes, I articulate what I think is a brilliant strategy that doesn’t reach its full potential with my boys. Sometimes, I use pay to motivate them. Other times, I stress systems, procedures, and structure. And when these things fail, I dig in hard to modeling the way wondering why no one is following. The key is wrapping all of these methods into an overall approach that focuses on my ability to tap into their unique motives and needs to accomplish a shared vision for their lives. Each of them is wired differently, and I have to understand that concept as a leader in order to affect change in each of their lives.
Knowing and understanding the people you lead is the first step to engaging the talents and passions of your people. Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson said it this way: “A great manager [leader] ... forces you to have a good opinion of yourself. He lets you know he believes in you. He makes you get more out of yourself. And once you learn how good you really are, you never settle for ... anything less than your very best.”
That is exactly the kind of leader that I want to be at home, at work, and in my community.
How are you tapping into the hearts and minds of the people you lead? What do you do to improve your “leadership effectiveness” and “inspire, impact, and influence" change and growth in your people?