“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
No one wants to work, day in and day out, carrying out meaningless tasks that feed the passion and vision of someone else. People want to feel engaged in work that is meaningful to them, where they know they are adding value. When you focus on the task of leadership, you often alienate your employees. As a leader, you have a unique opportunity to step beyond leadership and become a teacher. When you serve your employees in a teaching role, you inspire and engage them. So, how can you step up your leadership to teach and inspire?
Talented employees want to be challenged and engaged. They don’t want all the answers and every solution provided for them. They want the opportunity to identify problems, tackle issues, and make decisions related to their work for themselves. When you offer challenges to your employees, not only do you show that you trust them but, you make their work more exciting; when their work is more exciting they become more engaged; and, when they are engaged they are eager to learn new skills and gain new knowledge.
Employees need to find meaning in their work. They need to know that their contribution is making a difference. This cannot be your meaning; work must be meaningful to employees on an individual basis. They need to see the big picture and understand the important role they play in that big picture. When employees feel that their work is meaningful, motivation switches from external to internal. Meaningful work provides inspiration, and inspiration motivates employees to put more effort into their performance. High performing employees are always looking for ways to develop and to learn which improves themselves, the team, and the organization.
Employees want opportunities to grow. When you serve in the role of a teacher you invest your time and resources into helping others become the best they can be. Growth requires exposure to new experiences, continual training, opportunities to use new knowledge and skills, and the leeway to fail and learn from that failure. The more employees grow, the greater their potential for future growth and the greater their contribution to the organization.
At the end of the day, successful leaders are the ones who effectively lay out their vision and then get employees to buy into that vision heart and soul. When you serve employees as a teacher and a mentor, you inspire them to make your vision their own. With a shared vision, employees become more dedicated, teams become more committed, and the organization thrives.
Teach and Inspire
Effective leadership goes beyond dictating and directing employees and tasks. It requires stepping beyond the traditional role of the transactional leader to that of a teacher. When you become a teacher and mentor who offers challenge, provides meaning, supports growth, and shares vision you inspire your employees. And, inspired employees will take pride in their work, they will respect the goals of the organization, and they will give 110% in pursuit of those goals.
© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.