Chapter 16: What Is Your Leadership Inspiration Quotient? How To Make The Intangible More Tangible
To join the small community of leaders who understand what it is to be inspiring, you have to ask yourself the right questions – the ones that can help you to improve your performance as an inspiring communicator. If you can do that, you will more easily make a difference that changes poor performance into exceptional results. These are the 13 questions you must ask yourself if you want to benchmark and improve.
Leadership – and the ability to inspire – is the greatest intangible asset of all.
Great leaders make organizations profitable and successful. They help to drive enormous value from all of the other ‘soft’ assets of an organization – culture, knowledge, reputation and relationships. They create great places to work and they enable their followers to grow and develop and perform. They inspire success. The skill of inspiring people is of enormous value.
So how do you begin to make such a valuable intangible more tangible?
The only way is to put in place some measures. Try to begin to understand how inspiring you are as a leader by assessing your own skills, and then corroborating your views with those of your employees or direct reports. What’s important is not the absolute mark that you give yourself, nor the mark your employees give you – it’s the gap between those marks. It is in that gap that you have to improve, and if you do improve you will also improve the quality of your leadership, and thereby increase the chances of achieving your goals.
To join the community of leaders who understand what it is to be inspiring, you have to ask yourself the right questions – the ones that can help you to improve your performance as an inspiring communicator. If you can do that, you will more easily make the difference that can change poor performance into exceptional results.
These are the questions that really matter – the ones to ask yourself. Against each one rate yourself on a scale of nought to 10.
1. Can I say that I genuinely inspire our people by communicating with passion and integrity? (Does my leadership team do the same?)
2. Am I confident that everyone (at all levels in the organization) has a clear view of our values and our purpose so that all the decisions they make are aligned with these?
3. Do all our people understand what each of them needs to do to help achieve our overall goal, and are they inspired by it?
4. Is everyone in the organization committed to constantly improving our key relationships – with each other, our suppliers, partners, stakeholders and, most importantly, our customers?
5. Are we having enough meaningful conversations with our employees so they feel engaged, motivated and committed to what we are doing? Am I recognizing good work when I have those conversations?
6. Can I truly say that I understand what things are like for our people so that I can talk about issues that are important to them?
7. Do I make it a priority to get feedback and input from our people across the organization and respond to their concerns? Am I a good listener? Do I make it easy for people to bring me bad news?
8. Can people in the organization look at me and say that I speak out strongly and clearly on the issues that are important to me and to our organization?
9. Am I known as a leader who inspires and engages people by using stories to communicate the messages I want to convey, or do I only use charts with facts and figures?
10. Am I confident that the way I act, and the signals I send, communicate the right messages to our people?
11. Am I and all of the leaders in the organization properly prepared and trained for speaking publicly so we can ensure that every word we say counts?
12. Is communication a fundamental leadership priority within the organization, ensuring that we develop all of our leaders to become inspiring communicators?
Above all, am I doing everything I can to ensure that our people, our customers and all of our stakeholders trust who we are and what we do?
This questionnaire is based on The Language of Leaders’ 12 principles, and was formulated with help from Sinead Jefferies of Opinion Leader Research, a UK research company. You can now do this Leadership Inspiration test online at www.languageofleadersbook.com/thinking. This online test not only shows where your strengths and weaknesses lie, but also offers relevant practical tips on areas where you can improve.
Many hundreds of leaders from around the world have already done this test, and gave themselves an average rating of about 7/10. These leaders came from all over Europe, the USA, South America, Australia and the Far East.
Interestingly, the area in which these people felt least able to perform was on their ability to ‘engage’, scoring themselves lowest against the comment ‘My leadership team are having enough meaningful conversations with our employees so they feel engaged, motivated and committed to what we are doing.’ (Most employees would agree with this assessment!)
Surprisingly, the next lowest mark they gave themselves was on the ability to articulate an inspiring vision – an area that countless surveys of employees around the world have shown is one of the most important attributes of leadership. This is a significant gap, and a worrying one.
Across the board all leaders appreciated that they need to develop and improve, but it appeared that the fewer people a person said they led, the less confident they were in their skills. Managing a small team would imply potential for much greater influence, but perhaps for many the training and support in communication does not ‘kick in’ until responsibility increases to far higher levels in the organization’s hierarchy?
The skill these leaders felt was their strongest was their ability to articulate a strong point of view, and they also rated themselves highest against the comment ‘Do I make it a priority to get feedback and input from our people across the organization and respond to their concerns? Am I a good listener? Do I make it easy for people to bring me bad news?’ This is, perhaps, the biggest gap between the perceptions of leaders and employees. Most employee engagement surveys show that employees regard listening as one of the poorest skills of their leaders.