Are You An Inspiring Team Leader to Work for?

Why is being an inspiration to your followers an all-important part of your team leadership? Below is a figure that illustrates how the hierarchy of employees' needs looks:

At the bottom, you have the foundational stuff. Without that being in place, you won't get basic satisfaction. This is more or less all basic management stuff that you are hopefully already doing. The next level, on the other hand, is what drives engagement and where your leadership skills start to make a difference. Finally, you have the top layer—inspiration which is driven by the style of team leadership you are providing.

As you can see in the figure, there are two aspects of inspiration. One pertains to the vision or mission of your team: Is your team trying to achieve something meaningful? The other aspect is about you: Are you the sort of person that inspires followership?

Why are all these things important?

Well, if you are the sort of persons that likes information to be backed up by hard facts, take a look at the graph below:

At the end of the day, this is about productivity. People who are inspired produce twice as much as people who are just satisfied with their job. If you check out the Gallup employee engagement scores, you will see that around 63% of employees are not particularly engaged in the job. So from a leadership point of view, there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to engaging your team members.

This is a pet subject of mine as you may have noticed. When we are talking about implementing the Service Profit Chain model, employee satisfaction as such is not particularly interesting. What counts at the end of the day is your team members' enthusiasm and engagement.

But productivity is just one aspect of why being an inspirational team leader is important.

The other aspect is linked to the rapidly changing demographics. All the indicators are clear; within a few years, you might be scrambling to find the employees you need.

Especially in Northern Europe, the statistics are clear. Soon, you will see that for every four people that leave the industry because of retirement, only one new young person signs up. That is truly a disaster waiting to happen.

You have two choices. First is to try and automate your service like crazy, but that does not provide especially breathtaking service experiences, nor are they easy to differentiate from the services offered by the competition. Second is you can choose to create a place to work that stands head and shoulders above everyone else in your region, becoming the employer to be chosen first.

Too bad for the rest, but you'll do splendidly.

Hopefully, you now see my point: Focusing on what it will take to provide an inspirational environment for your people is a strategic issue to take. You need to get better at it than your competitors. If you look at it from a career point of view, managers who understand how to develop great team leaders are going to be in high demand.

What does it take to become inspirational? That's a topic for the next blog post.

In the meantime, I would like you to reflect a bit on what team leaders you have had in your career that you found inspirational. What was it they did that made them great at leading their team? Of course, also think about the team leaders you had who were total opposites and absolute joy killers. What was it they did that instantly made you feel disengaged and lethargic?


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Mike Hohnen, MBA is a coach, trainer, author and public speaker who supports leaders, managers and their teams in implementing the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

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