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Management Masterclass

By Christine Hayhurst, Chartered Management Instituteexternal link

Contact us for advice on your problems at work.

Q: "My team demands guidance from me -- and rightly so -- but I feel that I'm sometimes too 'technical' with my responses. Should I be, and, how can I be, more inspirational?"

A: A vast amount of research exists to suggest a link between inspirational leadership and the successful performance of many organizations, so you are right to want to move in that direction.

And indeed, a study published this month by the DTI and Chartered Management Institute, called "Inspired Leadership", has shown that most people expect to follow the examples set by their organization's leaders. The single most important factor they want to see in their leaders is inspiration.

But, as you say, making the jump from guide to inspirational leader is not so easy.

First, you need to demonstrate a strong strategic focus. Make sure you concentrate on specific goals rather than adopting a "catch all" approach. After all, if people are looking for guidance they are more likely to respond to leaders who let them know what is important. Give your team a clear sense of direction and it will go a long way to providing a genuine shared vision -- something which everybody can understand and work towards.

And learn from the examples set by the likes of Enron and Parmalat. Everything you do should be based on honesty, openness and the respect of your colleagues and customers. After all, inspiration can come from your attitude to others and it is the relationships you build that can make someone feel motivated.

Too many leaders think people want to hear their views and their experiences. So, take time out to listen to others' ideas, discuss problems and show thanks on a regular basis. It's easy to dismiss ideas if they are not your own because it takes more time to talk to others.

However, remember that your people run your business every day and may have some important knowledge that you could be overlooking. Inspiration doesn't just happen -- you need to win respect first and by taking an interest in others' views you'll be showing that their opinion matters too.

And be prepared to change! If employees don't see you coming up with new, imaginative ideas it's easy to see why they might not bother "thinking outside the box" either. Just look at leaders like Sir Alan Sugar or Richard Branson and you'll see that sometimes it is worth taking calculated risks. You may not get it right every time, but, like these two, you will be seen as someone prepared to try and be a source of inspiration.

It's worrying that a third of people claim to have never worked for an inspirational leader. Don't be a part of that statistic. Bear in mind that there are numerous training programs you could embark on to help develop your leadership skills and ultimately, remember that true inspiration comes from those leaders who can win the trust and respect of their teams.

-- The Chartered Management Instituteexternal link shapes and supports the managers of tomorrow, helping them deliver results in a dynamic world. With 74,000 individual members and 500 corporate members, the Institute helps set and raise standards in management, encouraging development to improve performance.

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