leadership, the venture magazineWhat are the key personal attributes that can transform managers into leaders and good leaders into great ones?

In the new book, Leading Well, CEO of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (IML ANZ) David Pich, along with co-author and board chair Ann Messenger, have written a research-based guide which identifies the key personal attributes that create strong, honest, and effective leadership.

In the extract below, chapter author Sam Bell discusses the importance of motivation and inspiration as key leadership skills:

The shift from transactional leadership to transformational leadership and then to situational leadership has brought more focus on the importance of motivation and inspiration as key leadership skills.

It has been argued that of the two, inspiration — the ability to inspire — is the more important leadership skill.

Marissa Levin distinguishes motivation as being pushed to accomplish a task; that is, being motivated by a result. Whereas inspiration is about being pulled towards something that stirs your heart, mind, or spirit, “the most inspirational leaders ignite a spark within their employees and followers that move them to action. They don’t require motivation to act because they’ve been inspired” by a person, event or circumstance.

It is reasonable for global management teams to fixate on employee engagement, but ultimately leadership, in a world of infinite choices — where so much power to build value sits with the employees — is about inspiration.

leadership, the venture magazineInspired employees exhibit three key characteristics. They are:

  1. Authentically dedicated — proud of their organisation for how it acts in the world and therefore they are self-driven
  2. Deeply accountable — seizing authority, meeting obligations
  3. Fully responsible

In addition, inspired staff tend to be extraordinarily produc­tive. The HOW Report, “A Global Empirical Analysis of How Governance, Culture and Leadership Impact Performance,” characterises inspiration as 27 per cent more predictive of performance than engagement, which is contingent and transactional, hence only as strong as the organisation’s short-term performance and the employee’s career trajectory.

According to the report, eventually that transaction, driven by rewards, perks, and other incentives, will expire, while inspiration — fuelled internally by deeply held beliefs and the connection between those beliefs and work — is enduring and profound.

It found that the key behaviours of inspirational senior leaders were that they:

  • Shared stories that exemplified how the organisation’s values came to life
  • Held themselves accountable to standards of conduct in line with the organisation’s values
  • Explained the role of values in making key decisions
  • Publicly admitted their own mistakes
  • Honoured commitments made to others
  • Sought feedback to strengthen their leadership and increase their own impact
  • Regularly connected with employees in meaningful ways
  • Held themselves responsible for the team’s successes and failures

The ability to inspire others comes from a set of beliefs and behaviours that start with the leaders themselves. An ability to inspire is at its heart an internal process that others see and, by definition, find to be inspiring!

Edited extract from Leading Well: 7 attributes of very successful leaders, now available at bookstores and online at www.managersandleaders.com.au