Winning leaders inspire and enable their workforces to achieve big bold goals. This requires a mindful and conscious shift in perspective and action. This shift relies upon a powerful vision that includes engaging people at all levels. Otherwise, performance improvement efforts will go nowhere. Where do effective leaders begin when it comes to motivating people to achieve big, bold goals? Three ways they do this include:
1. Connect People to the Mission
Winning leaders keep the mission in their communications and make sure everyone hears that what they do contributes to the organization’s mission (e.g., saving lives). Everyone is a piece of a bigger picture that should be producing something important. Winning leaders are inclusive while painting a picture of what’s important, which creates a helping culture. The most effective leaders foster a climate of receiving feedback frequently (e.g., climate surveys, 360-degree feedback and open dialogue). Also, the mechanics for how leaders run a meeting are important (e.g., making sure that one person doesn’t dominate the conversation). One of our military clients always polls team members by asking, “Are you in or are you out”? People who are in show thumbs up. People who are out show thumbs down. In a matter of 30 seconds, this leader polls everybody’s opinion, people are satisfied that they have been heard, and an issue has come to closure. Winning leaders welcome all contributions, and that fosters a supportive environment. These leaders know that when people don’t get a response, they stop giving input. So, they respond to people’s ideas: First, they acknowledge people who offer ideas. Second, they thank them. Third, if possible, they act on the idea. Then, they tell the individual they acted on it or why they didn’t.
2. Communicate the Big Picture
Winning leaders make sure everyone understands the context of all goals. One of our clients oversaw national warehouses that supplied products to grocery stores when a large competitor was threatening to move in. The company had to figure out a way to do what they were doing at 30% improved efficiency in order to prevent outsourcing to the new competition. This client was masterful about communicating a larger story and how everyone in all of the warehouses could band together to save the company and drive out the competition. He prefaced every communication with the heritage and story of the company (e.g., emails, meetings, conversations, etc.). As a result, everyone knew the story and was telling the story. To create a collective identity like our client did around something bigger goes back to change and the metaphor of a burning platform. In a nutshell, you have to change, or the platform around you will burn and you will have no choice but to change. Whether something positive is pulling you or something negative is pushing you, you have to make the bigger picture everybody’s motivation, and you have to be collective in your efforts to achieve it.
3. Clarify the Score for Everybody
Winning leaders make sure measures are in place to keep the score visible. This way everyone knows how close they are to hitting their targets when it comes to progress, performance, and plans. My team worked with one group in an agency that handled a lot of billing and processing. The leaders did a good job of identifying the mission of each department and the performance measures that matched those missions. They tracked them over time, then educated and shared this information so everyone knew how to drive performance in a proactive, non-threatening way. It raised the level of energy in the workforce. Everybody knew how those measures reflected performance to mission, and how what they did each day drove those measures up or down. People started doing more with less, and they went after the most valuable work. In the past, they had sometimes spent all day doing the wrong things. But afterward, they spent all day on the right things, and they could see an impact on the organization. They understood the significance of their work and got regular feedback on it. Effective leaders provide visibility and feedback so people can see the relationship between what they produced and the organization’s performance. These types of scorecards can be informal and accessible for the entire workforce.
In the end, enterprise improvement happens when the workforce is committed, satisfied, and motivated. Successfully transforming your organization to be its very best and achieve big bold goals requires everybody to unite their energy around something bigger than themselves, to be able to tell the story, and to know the score. It’s up to you to shift your perspective, enhance your vision, and enroll your people to transform your organization.