By Elisabeth Goodman, 11th April 2017
An effective leader is inspirational
We’ve been doing some background reading preparatory to launching RiverRhee’s new course on leadership, as the next step on from our Introduction to Management. Claudio Feser’s new book has been giving us a lot of food for thought.
The book is based on McKinsey’s practical experience and study of academic literature, and lays a strong emphasis on the qualities and skills of inspirational leadership.
Claudio Feser reassures us by saying that these skills can be learnt: they are a set of behaviours that address people’s “true inner motivators, values and emotions”. The basis of this type of leadership is to have a strong focus on the goal to be achieved, to influence people in such as way that they are committed towards a course of action, and to encourage and support them to take ownership for their actions.
These behaviours are also symptomatic of having a strong emotional intelligence, and the ability to clearly articulate the vision or goals for an organisation.
Although Feser does not mention Robert Dilts’ neurological levels of change, there is a strong connection to this NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) model.
We can learn a lot from neuroscience and from personality tools
Readers of my blogs will have picked up my digest of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article about Oxytocin, trust and employee engagement. The March – April issue of HBR continues the exploration of neuroscience in the context of personality tools, and Feser has a chapter on this topic too.
Leaders would do well to familiarise themselves with the current thinking on this topic, and also consider which personality (or psychometric) tools to use to aid their understanding of the strengths and diversity within their team.
We use tools such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) Belbin Team Roles to support our training for managers and teams, and will explore personality tools further in our leadership training.
An inspirational leader adapts their influencing style based on the circumstances
We know that effective managers and leaders adapt their approach based on the context and the people that they are dealing with.
I ‘grew up’ in the business world on Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: Science and Practice”, and am also a strong advocate of the strategies described in “Influencer – The new science of leading change”. We use aspects of these in RiverRhee’s Managing Change, and Communication and Influence courses.
Feser introduces a set of nine hard and soft approaches for influencing, based on the work of Kipnis, Schmidt and Wilkinson.
He describes how an inspirational leader will adapt which approach she or he uses with individuals based on the context, the knowledge, skills and mind-sets of the people involved.
So for instance, hard tactics will be most effective in simple, clear situations with some sense of urgency, whilst softer ones will be best for dynamic, complex and ambiguous situations.
Another example, according to Feser, is that inspirational appeals will be most effective where people have strong values, and with those who are more energetically outspoken. Whilst socialising strategies, those that start with something like “I see the problem exactly the same way…”, work well with knowledgeable people and those who are very conscientious about their work.
Inspirational leaders also operate at an organisational level
My work with the APM Enabling Change SIG has been a great opportunity to consolidate my thinking about the key factors for successful organisational change. So it was reassuring to see Feser’s suggestions echoing some of these:
- Create a change story, or vision: at its most powerful it will reflect the organisation’s values and emotions and be cascaded through the organisation
- Leaders role model the values and arouse the emotions in their particular change story
- Build skills and capabilities
- Ensure structure, processes and systems reinforce the change that is expected
Again, these are all activities that are within the control and sphere of influence of inspirational leaders.
We look forward to bringing these concepts, and more, into our new course on leadership in the not-too-distant future.
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops and one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams. See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.