In the business world, management and leadership positions are sometimes confused as one similar entity, but when looked at more closely, it becomes clear the two are not one in the same. A manager’s duties is focused on organization, coordination, and delegation. Great leaders go above and beyond their duties, ultimately motivating and inspiring the entire team.
While not all managers are great leaders, all leaders are great managers.
Recently, DJ Patil, data scientist from Greylock Partners, was briefly featured in Fast Company and gave an intriguing response to changing the strategic direction of a business. “[P]eople think they have to grab the steering wheel and turn the car. I think a better way to think about is, actually, how do you lead through inspiration? Who do you look to for inspiration? ” he said.
Great leaders who inspire their teams have the following traits:
The kind of passion involved in leadership isn’t overbearing and loud; it’s a deep unwavering commitment to an overall mission. A truly great leader is deeply passionate in the company vision, mission, and values. This sort of passion portrayed by a leader is easily shared and emulated by employees, co-workers, and any other individual that comes in contact with a leader. A passionate leader easily connects the dots of the big picture for their company and helps to reinforce the message of its existence to employees.
No great leader is without integrity. Honesty and consistency of values are vital to the functionality of a company with inspired, innovative employees. An individual who leads with integrity doesn’t need to boast about beliefs and values because they are woven through every action. Companies that value integrity often have a workforce that deeply believes in company values and strives to represent them to the fullest.
3. Engage, listen, empathize
Strong leaders place a high value on the people of their company. Whether it’s by showing interest in their day-to-day activities or by listening to their needs, leaders respect and inspire their employees by remaining connected. The standard for internal communication is generally set by the leader; their personable stance on employee engagement allows for the building of a strong company foundation.
When inspirational leaders aren’t communicating, they’re taking time to listen to the feedback of their employees. True leaders are valued for their ability to empathize.
If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then a company is only as innovative as its leader. Inspiring innovation throughout a company is a task that many managers often fail to accomplish. A truly innovative leader doesn’t just stay ahead of the times with an open and forward-thinking mindset; he or she sets the standard for employees by being a thought leader. This alone is sure to create an awe-inspiring movement toward internal innovation.
An inspiring leader leaves employees feeling motivated and confident. This kind of energy isn’t something that can be created or faked. It’s something that can be felt through an entire brand. Truly passionate and driven leaders are more than motivational speakers, their workforces are usually positive, level-headed, and oozing with passion.
A workforce inspired by excellent leadership is sure to be creative, forward-thinking, and motivated toward the company mission. While not all employers express great leadership qualities, it’s important to take time to recognize and learn from those who do.
What leadership traits do you feel are the most successful when it comes to inspiring innovation?
Joanna Riley Weidenmiller is the CEO and co-founder of The One-Page Co. She earned her bachelor’s in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and lives in Beijing and San Francisco. Connect with Weidenmiller and 1-Page on Twitter @1pagebiz, Facebook, and 1-page’s blog.