One of the common concerns most leaders have revolves around employee engagement. Of how to encourage employees to be fully committed to the organization’s vision and long-term goals.
Without question, this is a critical factor to an organization’s success and long-term growth. And yet, what’s curious is how many leaders don’t apply the same kind of reflection and review on themselves, and in particular, to their leadership.
Specifically, just as how they don’t want their employees to simply show up to do no more than what’s asked of them, leaders should also be examining how they approach leading others, and whether due to complacency or boredom, they’re focusing more on simply getting things done instead asking what else they should be doing to drive growth and organizational success.
To be fair, falling into this safe, familiar groove is something we’re all susceptible to experiencing, especially the longer we remain in a particular role or function, no matter how much the landscape or dynamics around us might change in response to internal conditions and external factors.
But just as we expect to put in efforts to ensure that we are encouraging our employees to bring their best efforts to the table, we should also be making time to reflect on our leadership, and whether there is something we should be doing differently to improve the way we lead. Or perhaps if we realize we’ve already given our best efforts to our current endeavour, that it’s time to explore new and different opportunities to truly maximize the contributions we can make as leaders.
To help with this leadership reflection and self-assessment, here are four questions you should be asking yourself to ensure you are being the kind of leader your team requires in order to succeed today and in the years ahead.
1. Are you creating value?
Initially, I’m sure most leaders would answer this question in the affirmative. After all, your employees for the most part are hitting their targets and your company is achieving positive growth. So clearly, you’re creating value.
And yet, that kind of answer reflects the common finding found in so many employee engagement surveys. Specifically, what these studies find is that employees are doing what’s asked of them. However, they’re not going above and beyond that for the simple fact that they’re not engaged or invested in the actual vision of the organization.
And this is where leaders need to step in, not to be task masters making sure people do what’s asked of them, but creating a vision and workplace environment that compels people to step up and do more to help make this vision a reality.
As a leader, the value you create is not getting people to do their jobs, but inspiring them to achieve their true potential [Share on Twitter].
2. Are you making a difference?
In many of my talks on leadership, I share this point that what motivates people to do their best work is knowing that they’re making a difference. And this most certainly applies to leadership as well. Again, it’s easier as leaders to convince ourselves that we are making a difference by pointing out the things your employees have achieved under your leadership.
But this idea only gives rise to another question. Namely, are the achievements your employees attain under your leadership something that’s unique to your leadership, or is it something that anyone in that role can ensure gets done?
That’s why the “you” in the question above is emphasized because it’s about what you specifically are able to bring out in those you lead, thanks to what you create and nurture through your leadership. That it’s only because you put in these efforts and changes that allowed for these outcomes and successes to be achieved.
To put it more succinctly, the difference we make through our leadership is creating conditions that drive people to aim for greatness because they believe in their ability to attain it [Share on Twitter].
3. Are you inspiring others to do more?
In my experience, this question is one that most leaders have the hardest time with, in large part because of misguided notions of what it takes to inspire their employees. Understandably, this is in large part due to the leadership role models we look up to, who often tend to be people whose oratory skills has left us with a legacy of inspiring quotes and calls to action.
But the truth is as leaders, we don’t need give rousing speeches that cause people to stand up and cheer as seen in many Hollywood films. Rather, we need to recognize that what truly inspires people to do their best work is knowing that what they do matters. In other words, if we want to inspire the best in others, we have to help our employees find meaning in what they do [Share on Twitter].
After all, no one is going to be inspired or motivated working for a boss whose sole focus is simply checking things off their To-Do list.
4. Do you still care?
Just as with the first question, this one can trip leaders up because on the surface, most leaders obviously care. They care about making sure quarterly targets are met and that measures are taken to encourage growth and the long-term viability of the organization.
But just as is the case with employee engagement, these efforts are not enough to bring out the best in those you lead. To encourage and sustain your employees’ motivations to be the strongest contributions to your organization’s shared purpose.
The fact is we can’t look at employee engagement independent of our leadership. We can’t expect our employees to care, to be fully invested and committed to our organization and its long-term goals if our sole consideration and focus is on just getting things done today.
If the only thing that drives you today is making sure the work gets down, all you’re doing is managing a To-Do list as opposed to leading people to achieve something meaningful, both for your organization and for your employees.
When leaders truly care about their vision and the people they rally around it, they create conditions that allow everyone to succeed and thrive [Share on Twitter].
Again, the purpose of these 4 questions is to encourage you to check-in with yourself, and in particular with how you view your role as leader in your organization. The fact is we all want to know we’re being the best leaders we can be for our employees.
But if we don’t make time to ask ourselves these kinds of questions about our own internal motivations and attitudes about how we approach our role, if we’re not reflecting on whether we’re driving that sense of purpose and drive that propelled those leaders we admire to achieve those remarkable feats, we can very soon find ourselves more a manager of tasks than a true leader who people will willingly follow into the future.