It’s been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Amen. Everyone has good intentions, but fewer see their intentions bear fruit. In any political debate or discussion about how to make the world a better place, most participants seem to know what they think should be done, but again, few get up and do anything.
Just as in everyday life, the workplace holds no shortage of good intentions. The following six directives describe what great leaders do to inspire action. That is, to ensure that intentions rise to the level of action. For that reason they can also be called six traits of great leaders.
Leaders must communicate clearly defined goals, evaluate results, mark milestones, and celebrate success. Keep on the lookout and listen for excuses used to dodge accountability. Go beyond your direct reports, include your peers and management. But most of all, hold yourself accountable to the highest standards.
“Sawubona” is a Zulu greeting which means, literally, “We see you.” Saying, “Sawubona,” acknowledges human solidarity. It expresses the fact that what we see in each other and around us is a reflection of our perception derived not only from our own experiences but from the stories and ideas passed between people.
As a leader you must remember that how you feel colors your perception of what you see going on around you. Consequently, you must manage those feelings accordingly.
Poor leaders use their position as a crutch and rely on their authority alone to lead. Mature leaders, in contrast, inspire action with a shared-leadership model. They actively accept individual opinions and ideas. They not only allow but encourage autonomy. As a result, their employees feel that they are contributing something toward the success of the company.
Workplace fun predicts high job satisfaction. Employees who are happy at work tend to be more productive. One survey found that up to 88 percent of millennials want a fun and social work environment. To inspire action, leaders must create the opportunity to forge real relationships at work, create meaning, and make others genuinely look forward to the start of every workday.
Reflection, or the process of critically thinking about your behavior, attitudes, beliefs, and values has been identified by numerous researchers as an important part of any learning process. As a continuous learner, reflection is essential to your professional life. Critical reflection broadens your perspectives and provides a holistic understanding of complex or ambiguous situations.
Great leaders not only set high standards, they see them through. When things get difficult, a leader must summon the tenacity and remain steadfast in the face of setbacks. There are times to entertain and encourage new ideas, consider new paths, and find better ways to do things. But leaders must also know when to forge onward and then stick with the plan.
You may have observed that these six ways correspond to the six Leadership Attraction Powers we teach at every CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach program. If you really want to learn and put into practice the most effective ways to inspire action, I strongly recommend signing up. You’ll learn and practice the leadership skills you need to address alongside leaders like you from other organizations with many of the same challenges.