Don’t we all deserve inspirational leaders?

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Headline might be a bit much (aren’t they always?), because I’m not sure anyone really deserves anything. Plus: inspirational leadership is conceptually similar to charismatic leadership, and that’s a bit terrifying. (See: what’s happening in many nations right now.)

It’d be nice, though, to see a bit more inspirational leadership out there in the world and in companies. Like: someone telling us why we are doing certain things, as opposed to “because so-and-so said so” or “to make more money.” Those are reasons that must be followed (hierarchy!), but I wouldn’t necessarily call them “logical reasons for doing something.” Now, I’m not sure the idea of inspirational leadership is logical either.

What do I mean? Well, frankly (my dear), I don’t think a lot of people give a shit about leadership as is. The goal of a company is typically to please stakeholders and make a few people rich. If you displayed “inspirational leadership” but didn’t do those two things, you’d probably get fired. And then the whole concept of inspirational leadership is like a tree falling in the forest, right?

Because the focus is often wholly on “the cheddar” or “kissing the right ass,” these leadership discussions often fall away into buzzword land. Sad. They should be important discussions, but often die in a flood of KPIs and quarterly reports. It’s probably not that surprising that conventional work isn’t working for people so much anymore, i.e. The Gig Economy’s rise.

People aren’t KPI donkeys. Maybe inspire them a little?

But what if we could tie a concept like “inspirational leadership” to “more money?”

The inspirational leadership-more money tie

Good article here on “being effective” vs. “being productive.” Many companies have focused on the former in the past 40 years, but now that may be eroding. Six Sigma, which everyone on LinkedIn loves to discuss, is about efficiency. That’s awesome, and a noble goal, but at some point you gotta ring the bell and hit the targets. That would be productivity. Neither is the same as “I’m so slammed,” by the way.

Good stats in this article, including:

Best part of that might be “virtually every employee can bring more to their job.” That’s about 903 percent true. But look down: an inspired employee is worth about 2.25 satisfied employees.

So why don’t we have more inspirational leadership, then?

First problem: guys who make decisions at companies don’t care about, or believe, research like this. They’ve got revenue stand-ups to race to.

Second problem: “inspiration” is a fluffy word. It means a million different things. Some are inspired by a fat bonus. Others are inspired by respect. There’s a wide variance, but “leadership” is too often about forcing everyone to follow the same model.

And third problem: again, many people view work as hair-on-fire urgent projects that, if completed well, might lead to revenue and perks. There’s never any time to stop and think about real issues, or how to make things better. It’s all about just knocking down what’s right in front of you.

… and this is a shame, because …

… inspired employees, driven by inspirational leadership, run through walls for people and hit more targets. That’s more productive and drives more revenue, assuming they’re working on something with some priority. Uninspired, drone employees check boxes and hit their marks, but go home around 4:54pm and don’t do much else.

Which bucket do you think would help you make more money? I’d guess the inspired bucket, although that would require inspirational leadership. And that’s nowhere in sight at most places.

What else you got on inspirational leadership?

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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