Richard Sutton has worked as a postdoctoral lecturer at South African universities for more than twenty years. He also advises top executives, elite athletes and Olympic teams on stress, management and adaptability. Richard has also written two books. His most recent book is about the challenges faced by leaders in these times.
Anxiety, uncertainty and stress
Newspaper headlines have been saying it for months: we are experiencing the greatest crisis since the Second World War. It is causing anxiety, uncertainty and most of all, a lot of stress – and has done so for many months. While periods of short-term stress keep us alert, long-term stress leads to “paralysis”. We become depressed, less innovative, less creative and we perform poorly. This also applies within our organizations.
Right now, the entire world is looking for inspiring leadership. At present, 76% of employees believe that today's leaders have our best interests at heart. This means that, despite our anxiety, there is a great deal of trust. Nevertheless, these leaders face an enormous challenge. They must keep their teams profitable but also healthy and happy.
Defend and attack
What is the best plan of attack now? It starts with satisfied and committed employees. This is the best remedy for stress. Employees feel satisfied when they receive sufficient attention, appreciation and help, and they feel committed when you give them the opportunity to grow and express themselves. Give your employees a voice and really listen to them, and they'll feel they are an important part of your organization. It is only once you have “defended” your team against stress that you can attack. And that demands inspiration.
The power of inspiration
Inspiration cancels out the negative. Inspiration unlocks “untapped energy reserves”, which help us feel energetic, motivated and invincible. And this leads to greater productivity.
An example: when we offer an unhappy employee attention, appreciation and help, he will turn into a satisfied employee. His productivity will rise by 40%. If we give this employee authority and a voice, he will turn into a committed employee. His productivity will rise by 88%. Add a goal and meaning to this (something to fight for) and you have an inspired employee. His productivity will rise by 125%!
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Sounds good, but how exactly do you inspire employees? There are four ways of doing this:
1. Start from within
Manage your stress, be flexible and optimistic, believe in yourself and express yourself.
2. Set the tone
Be open to change, keep going when no one else can, take responsibility, put others first and see the bigger picture, just as Martin Luther King did.
Be empathic, modest, listen and find commonality in a world of differences, just as Nelson Mandela did. Even though we don't see one another face to face right now, we can still connect. For example, check in with all your employees once a week: how are they really doing?
4. Lead your team
Be focused, have a clear direction, empower your team and co-create.
Begin with yourself
What is your “superpower”? And in which area can you still develop? From each of the above categories, choose one superpower and one point that requires development and become that inspiring leader. We have the opportunity to change now – and not just our organizations, but the whole world. As Lord Jonathan Sacks once said: “We are as great as our ideals. If we truly believe in something beyond ourselves, we will achieve beyond ourselves.”
Want to see and read more about inspiring leadership?
Thank you, Richard, for this interesting webinar! Are you keen to find out more about inspiring leadership, crisis management and being a good employer? Each month, Effectory hosts a free webinar covering a topic that is relevant to the times we now live in.
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