The Inspiring Leader

Leadership is a hot topic these days and is one of the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management. I attended a webinar today sponsored by Soundview Executive Book Summaries about “Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate.” The speakers were the co-authors of The Inspiring Leader, John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger.

Their research shows that inspiration is the most powerful of all leadership competencies. It is the best predictor of overall ratings of leadership effectiveness by direct reports, peers and managers. It is the quality most valued by employees. Inspiration is also the factor most correlated with employee commitment and satisfaction. And, the impact of inspiring and motivating others is consistent across different kinds of organizations and within different cultures.

During the webinar I asked, “How can inspiring leaders be held accountable?” The presenters offered this feedback:

  1. Evaluate the leader’s performance on achieving his business objectives.
  2. Evaluate how people respond, which can be measured by employee retention, commitment, engagement, and their willingness to go the extra mile.
  3. Keep in mind that there are different ways to inspire. For example, enthusiasts are known for their pep talks, experts inspire using knowledge, and enhancers inspire by building relationships.

Here are a few more valuable tips:

  1. The ability to inspire doesn’t require a big title.
  2. Align your firm’s goals with the objectives of your people. People love their work when they feel that they are making a difference. People want to make a contribution and do something important.
  3. Find innovative ways to communicate. E-mail is impersonal. Face time is critical even if the amount of time needs to be reduced due to the economy or other factors.

What I’ve learned so far is that all of us have the opportunity to be inspiring leaders. The difference is that some of us take advantage of the opportunities while others just think about it.