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Be the Change You Wish to See


Oct. 24, 2019 Psycology Today

Sometimes our best effort to motivate others results in resistance to change and misdirected resentment. Leaders are well aware of this phenomenon and often anticipate it. Leadership roles can be exhausting.

One of the most important elements of effective leadership is the ability to demonstrate what you are trying to grow within others. Most of us respond best to those who lead by example and who guide from beside us rather than in front.

How to Inspire Others to Rise to Their Potential:

Perhaps you have noticed that your team is lagging. Maybe they are less productive than they used to be or seem to have lost their passion for a particular project.

Explore the reasons for the decline. Are they experiencing signs of burnout or fatigue? Are they developing morale issues? Invite your team to explore these feelings with you individually or brainstorm as a larger group so that everyone is part of finding a good solution.

Foster an environment of openness by being open and forthright.

Develop a healthy communication structure by providing honest feedback and recognition of skills. Be a leader who encourages growth through vulnerability. Show your own vulnerability and express a few of your own challenges; show them how it’s done. Literally.

How to Encourage Self Care?

Sometimes in leadership positions it can feel dangerous to encourage too much self-care. Perhaps too much self-care will lead to self-indulgence. That may then morph into wasted time, mental health days and a decline in productivity.

Ironically, the more a leader encourages a team to tend to self-care, the more innovative they are apt to become in their ideas and commitment to the work. When people feel cared for, they are more apt to stick around. If someone feels as if their supervisor values them, and not just the work they can produce, it elicits a reciprocation of value. encourage

The best teams are comprised of people who honor their own needs, the mission of the company and the relationships with their co-workers.

It can mean the difference between a job and a career. Insist that people value their own time and don’t take on more than what they can manage. Make sure people are using vacation days instead of skipping them because of big projects at work.

Advocate for your team’s benefits related to self-care.

Notice when a team member seems stretched too thin and work together to ameliorate that stress. Encourage a mental health day when it is needed. These investments in people will pay dividends in the long run.

At the same time, demonstrate your own dedication to self-care. 

Talk to your team about coping strategies and discuss the varying ways people reduce stress. Make these types of conversations part of a routine dialogue in the company to ensure that it is a priority. And be sure to prioritize your own wellness, too, again leading by example.

Find Out What Their Passions Are?

As you work with your team on motivation and growth, learn what they are passionate about; can these passions and interests become part of a workplace initiative?

Often harnessing these strengths and gifts into an area of leadership for individual team members can boost morale and investment. If a team member is passionate about animal welfare, brainstorm ways they can bring that energy and passion to the workplace.

People feel invested where their values are engaged. Is there a fundraiser for this cause that your team member would like to raise money for? Be creative in the ways your company can participate in your workers’ interests. A focus on humanity and kindness is an important part of a company philosophy.

Taking an interest in your team members’ passions can help facilitate connection within the team and boost morale. Better morale results in decreased recidivism.

Keep It In Check

Ultimately, you are not and cannot be responsible for the success and motivation of others. If you find that your team continues to struggle with these issues, keep your own perspective on the big picture.

Learning where your responsibilities end and others’ personal accountability begins is just as important as all of these other efforts to guide.

You cannot drag others into progress.

There may also be personal details of their lives that could be contributing to their challenges behind the scenes. As a leader, your role is support, advocacy and leading by example.

The magic wands will have to be distributed by human resources upon delivery. If you find yourself taking on too much ownership of other’s satisfaction and motivation, ask yourself:

What can I reasonably expect of myself as a leader?

Am I taking my work responsibilities too personally?

How can I take care of myself and balance my work and personal life?

The role of a leader demands a difficult balance between meeting company expectation and managing the human side of the equation.

It is important to reassess your values in light of this delicate balance to help clarify where your best-self shines through.

Your most important mission is staying true to your own internal compass, since that is what you end up living with in the long run.

Leaders need that inner guide to ensure that they don’t become burned-out or move beyond what feels instinctively “right” or good. It can be easy to get swept up in a focus on the “bottom line,” and while company sustainability is important, humanity is more important.

Leading others toward their greatest potential and encouraging work-life balance may end up being the best part of your job. Be sure to tend to your own needs however, and lead by example.

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