How to Inspire Employees to Help Solve Business Problems

Things are good right now. In talking with my clients all are busy. They’re running overtime, and business is profitable. Economic reports indicate that the future looks bright in to the foreseeable future.

As I look back on my 38 years of being in business, working for my father’s company and now my own, one of the things I’ve learned is that you can never put the brakes on continuous improvement.

Why? Because the business environment is in a constant state of change.

Many changes are fueled by disruptive forces that business leaders can’t control, such as the stage of the business cycle, interest rates and the cost of capital, U.S. and global political environments, the value of the dollar, advancements in technology, supplies of materials, changing customer preferences, competitors moves, and even employees.

A business needs to be pursuing continuous improvement, even in prosperous times, because the strongest competitors are always improving and are a moving target.

If a business leader decides to ride the wave of prosperous times, they will soon find the business sucking exhaust fumes from competitors ahead of them, and financial solvency and long-term sustainability are put at risk.

Internal and external challenges will continue to present themselves; in prosperous times the pressure from these challenges isn't any lighter. In most companies the burden for solving these challenges rests on the shoulders of company leaders.

This pressure can fatigue even the most optimistic leaders.

A business owner may feel even more pressure when they operate using a command and control leadership style. Command and control uses standards, procedures, and output statistics to regulate the organization. This leadership approach is authoritative in nature and uses a top-down approach.

It is effective with employee groups that require a more managerial or autocratic style that involves closer control and greater direction, particularly in situations where group members are unskilled and need a lot of oversight.

However, in an organization that is ready to transform its culture, and wants to tap into the brainpower of employees to help solve organizational challenges, evolving to a transformational leadership style makes sense.

What is Transformational Leadership?

Have you ever been in a group where someone conveyed a clear vision of the group's goals? They had a noticeable passion for the work, and an ability to make the rest of the group feel recharged and energized.

This person just might be what is called a “transformational leader”.

Transformational leaders inspire positive changes in people who follow them. Through the strength of their vision and personality, transformational leaders can inspire followers to change their expectations, perceptions, and motivations to work towards common goals of the group or organization.

Through the actions they take transformational leaders earn the trust, respect, and admiration from their followers. 

Transformational leaders are focused on helping every member of the group personally succeed.

There are four main components of transformational leadership.

Think  Transformational leaders challenge the status quo and encourage creativity among followers. The leader encourages followers to explore new ways and ideas of doing things. Others are encouraged to use their cogitative abilities and develop the ability to think, to solve problems and to define solutions.

Support – Transformational leaders offer support and encouragement to individual followers. To foster supportive relationships, transformational leaders keep lines of communication open so that followers feel free to share ideas and so that leaders can offer direct recognition of the unique contributions of each follower.

Transformational leaders understand that “everybody is somebody” and convey that message to their staff through their actions. This in turn earns respect and trust from their people. The result is that employees have the confidence to volunteer solutions to challenges.

For employees to be able to volunteer solutions it’s imperative that the lines of communication are open, and information about the business is transparent.

Scientific studies estimate that the human brain processes approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. Of those 60,000 thoughts, the employer receives the benefit of 6-8% of those thoughts, or about 4,000.

By being transparent and sharing information openly the staff can increase their discretionary thinking to provide more potential solutions for the many challenges facing the organization.

Inspire and Motivate– Transformational leaders have a clear vision that they can articulate to followers, and energize them to experience the same motivation to fulfill goals.

What can you do to become a more transformational leader? Leadership experts suggest that having a strong, positive vision of the future plays a critical role.

Influence – The transformational leader serves as a role model for followers. Because followers trust and respect the leader, they emulate this individual and internalize his or her ideals.

Transformational leaders can inspire followers to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individuals’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.

Groups led by this type of leader tend to be both successful and loyal. They give a lot, collaborate well with the team, and care deeply about the group’s ability to accomplish its goals.

Turnover tends to be low because transformational leaders can inspire a great deal of commitment in their followers.

The opposite of this experience is employees show up at work and put their time in, but basically are there to collect a paycheck at the end of the week. They don’t care to share ideas about how to help the organization be more successful.

Increasing Engagement and Ideation

By adopting a transformational leadership style, employees will become more engaged and will contribute creative ideas to help solve the internal and external challenges a business faces faster and more accurately.

The result will be improved productivity, individual performance, sales, profit and many other rewards.

Leaders, managers and employees will also experience a much more satisfying and happier work life experience.

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