Don’t Micro-Manage; Inspire Your People

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Leadership involves more than caring about the people you lead; it requires that they feel your authentic concern.

Stephen Covey, makes this important point in his book “Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others”.  Most people want to know that they matter and that what they’re doing matters. “They want to contribute their talents, skills and time to something significant and meaningful. They want purpose”.  Thus, the leader’s role is to inspire them to feel that they and their work matter.

Christopher Kolenda, founder of the Strategic Leadership Academy, notes that leaders do so by being exemplars. Look at scenes with warriors in the Civil War (and prior wars) and you’ll note that they are depicted on horseback in the front of the action. ”They rode into battle making them the most vulnerable people…” (Which explains why generals had the highest casualty rate!) 

Today, the leader does that by overly communicating purpose to workers, providing direction, and inspiring trust in the plan. Just as on the battlefield, the leader’s mission is to make the workers the heroes for committing to the plan and achieving the goals. You win in the marketplace only by first winning in the workplace. 

As Antoine De Saint-Exupery said “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”  

This is even more important with a remote workforce. Your communications constantly need to build trust and inspire greatness – not just identify the tasks that people need to do. For instance, a colleague recently started a machine learning company with all remote workers. Every 6 weeks, they get together and engage in a “hack-a-thon” to work together, brainstorm together and challenge the assumptions that got them this far. As he codes and participates, he inspires!