While out walking, I saw a dog being “inspired” to change course. By that, I mean, the owner, without any verbal commands, sulled on the leash forcing the dog to walk on the other side. Though I was listening to a podcast at 1.8x the normal speed and louder than I should, I could still hear the dog’s nails scratching the concrete.
Is that how you go through your day at work? One tug on the collar after another? Have you seen leaders motivate team members by yanking chains? I’ve said it before, “We can’t make people want to do things, but, we can inspire them.”
Here are a few ways leaders fail to inspire:
- Following Rules: You know I am a HUGE process, system, and efficiency freak; yet, rules do not encourage innovation or creativity. Going through the motions for the sake of expectation is hollow and demoralizing for team members.
- Forcing Goals: Goals are critical for supporting the vision and moving the organization forward—duh! If I am encouraged to strive toward someone else’s goals, however, the likelihood of my commitment, investment, and success is far less– even if the outcome is the same. Goals must be personalized.
- Punishing Failure: Good leaders know failure must be acknowledged and addressed in order to identify a path toward improvement. I love Samuel Beckett’s words, “Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” How can you fail better? Or encourage your team to fail better?
- Ignoring Problems: If you immediately start negotiating, “What if it’s a small problem? How big does an issue need to be before I have to fix it?” Strong leaders don’t talk themselves out of addressing concerns, especially the smaller ones.
Yanking on someone’s chain can get short-term results; it does not, however, inspire long-term commitment, deep-seated desire, or ongoing development. …And certainly not appreciation! Can you imagine the dog I saw looking up at the owner thinking, “Thanks, I really like it when you unexpectedly yank on my leash forcing me to do something I don’t want to do.” Yeah, probably not!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.