Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead. —Ross Perot
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
The Old Way
Early organizations were run by authoritarian leaders who believed that employees tended to be lazy. These leaders focused on ways of improving productivity through a command and control structure of leadership that was based on the belief that leaders were born and not made. The hierarchical organizational structure was born.
In the early 20th century, Fredrick Taylor pioneered scientific management. This form of leadership focused on production by breaking projects down into tasks. Employees could then be trained to specialize in a specific task. Taylor emphasized efficiency, control, and predictability. This view of leadership treated employees like instruments that leaders could manipulate. The focus of leadership was on the needs of the organization and not those of employees.
A Paradigm Shift
The scientific approach to leadership failed to acknowledge the complexity of organizational operations as a whole. The approach to leadership began to shift to forms of leadership that focused on the relationship between leaders and followers. This new generation of leaders believed that leadership was dependent upon one’s ability to inspire others through the building of relationships and development of trust. These modern-day leaders serve as role-models for followers. They place the needs of followers over their own personal needs or those of the organization. These leaders enable and encourage autonomy and participation in organizational decision-making. They empower others and inspire them to work towards a shared vision.
The traditional, top-down, hierarchical organizational management structure is changing. Leadership can be seen as dynamic and fluid rather than fixed. It is an emergent property where a group of individuals bring their expertise together in pursuit of a shared goal. The emerging leadership paradigm characterizes a leader as an individual who inspires and influences others with or without holding a formal position of authority.
Who Can Lead
Leadership is not about a position, it can come from anyone. Leadership takes place all around us on a daily basis. Being a true leader goes beyond title or position. Every individual within an organization, team, or community has the opportunity to inspire those around them. An effective leader encourages every individual to participate in the learning and leading. An individual who is seen as knowledgeable, friendly, open, trustworthy, and always willing to help can serve a leadership role by inspiring others.
The performance of a team or organization is directly related to the ability of the members or employees to share knowledge, experience, and skills in the coordination and completing of tasks. The development of close relationships based on trust and respect lays the foundation that enables one to inspire others. These relationships can be developed by employees at every level of an organization.
Lead and Inspire
Leadership is all about the ability to inspire others to work towards a shared vision or goal. Leadership has become cooperative, the leader playing the role of coach and supporter with an emphasis on the individuals working under them. The role of a leader is to allocate resources, serve as a role-model, coach followers, and to inspire others. It is the leader’s responsibility to offer followers the opportunity to grow. By developing and maintaining trusting relationships, leaders enable individuals to collaborate, share knowledge, and contribute to the development of new organizational knowledge.
The ability, knowledge, respect, and confidence that an individual possesses contribute to his or her ability to inspire action in others. Inspirational leaders communicate a clear vision, set high expectations, and motivate followers through encouraging individual creativity, development, consideration, and intellectual stimulation. We can inspire others with a sense of trust, respect, purpose, value, inclusivity, confidence, and encouragement.
Gone are the days of command and control leadership. People want to be inspired by the leaders they look to for guidance. Look around, your organization is brimming with individuals who have developed the relationships, earned the respect and trust, and demonstrated the knowledge that allows them to inspire others within your organization.
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