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Three Strategies You Can Use To Become A More Inspiring Leader by Jack Craven (Appeared in Forbes Article on 3/20/17)

Jack Craven
March 20, 2017

*Three Strategies You Can Use To Become A More Inspiring Leader by Jack Craven as featured in on May 12, 2017

Are you getting the results that you want from your team? Do you blame them for not taking initiative, underperforming, or not completing projects quickly enough? 

As you think about your complaints, think about what your part is in the results. You may be a partner, director, principal or founder, but you should strive to be an inspiring leader no matter what your title. Having that attitude can change what you say, how you say it, and how it impacts your team.

Here’s how you can truly become an inspiring leader for your staff:

Don’t Pass Blame, Take Responsibility For The Results

During a recent client engagement, I met with several partners who were complaining about the lack of commitment their associates had. “They don’t take initiative, and they take too long to complete assignments,” they said.

Conversely, the associates said, “The partners don’t give us enough direction. Their expectations are too high. It’s like they forgot how long it took them to do assignments when they were associates.”

I encouraged both parties to shift from blaming and complaining to taking 100% responsibility for their undesirable results. After some thought, a few partners acknowledged they could have been more clear in setting goals and that some of their expectations were unrealistic. Likewise, the associates conceded that they didn’t honor the agreements they made and that they didn’t ask for help.

When a company’s partners and associates blame one another, it often results in goals not being met and a culture where no one takes responsibility. Though the tendency may be to pass blame on another, take 100% of the responsibility if you are to truly become an inspiring leader.

Invest In Leadership Development Training

Many companies don’t emphasize or train their employees in leadership development. They may feel the cost isn’t worth it or they may wrongly assume that good employees inherently know how to be a good leader. As a result, many partners and emerging leaders have little, if any, leadership training as they get promoted. They were successful employees who rose the ranks because of their skills related to their role. Few had the training to learn the difference between being a good employee to being an inspiring leader who successfully manages others.

Leadership development training helps emerging leaders shift from focusing on what’s needed to rise the ranks to a new set of skills that allows their team to be successful. Invest in leadership development training for guidance on how to become more impactful, communicate more effectively and engage your team to get the most out of them.

Focus On Helping Others Succeed

Part of leadership development training is understanding that there is a value shift when one becomes an inspiring leader. Instead of the focus being on yourself, inspiring leaders make others better as a result of their presence. Motivate and engage your team by articulating a vision and emphasizing values. Support your employees’ efforts to abide by this vision by providing coaching, feedback, recognizing and rewarding success, and being a role model.

Your mindset should be: “How can I help my team better succeed?” Tap into your greatest strengths and share what you know with your team. Then ask what support they need and encourage them to give you candid feedback. When you hear the feedback, be curious and not defensive, and be sure to praise them on a regular basis.

Strengthen What You’re Good At

I always ask partners how they define their role. Do they simply label themselves as a partner — or as a leader? The first step is to change your perspective and truly see yourself as an inspiring leader. Inspiring leaders get their teams more energized, are more impactful, and work better together.

According to Bain & Company, there are 33 leadership characteristics that have the power to inspire others. They fall into a leader’s ability to either develop inner resources, set the tone, connect with others, or lead the team. If you’re wondering which of the 33 are most important, the answer is none. No combination of strengths is statistically more powerful than any other.

Focus on your strengths and increase your ability to be in the top third of all leaders in a particular trait. If you focus on one strength to develop more than the rest, let it be centeredness. As an inspiring leader, model centeredness by being resilient, handling stress well, empathizing and deeply listening.

Inspired employees are significantly more productive as satisfied employees. And if you can get them all to be more productive, think of how much it would impact your company.

What are you and your team’s next steps for becoming inspiring leaders? 

Jack Craven
Jack Craven is an executive coach to business leaders, and the teams and companies they lead.

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