The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What is the most important quality a leader should demonstrate?” is by Suzanne Dowd Zeller, chief human resource officer at Allianz Life.
The most important qualities a leader can demonstrate are motivation and inspiration. While some may think these qualities are simply aspirational, I find myself applying them in very tangible ways. Here’s how:
Create a compelling vision
Employees who see a future they can be passionate about will have a stronger desire to do great things. Give employees a reason to get excited about their work. For example, I recently started managing an additional team in our office. I immediately got the leaders of this team involved in our new vision. Because employees felt they were involved in the creation process, I quickly received buy-in and excitement about where we were headed.
In addition, a compelling vision also needs to be attainable and relevant. If communicated correctly, employees should be able to answer one question: How does my job support the vision? If an employee has direct contact supporting customers, they should be able to connect how excellent service ultimately supports the financial stability of the company. Or, if an employee works in human resources, they should be able to see how offering employee support and innovative development programs benefits the bottom line.
See also: Doing This Will Make You a Better Leader
A leader can easily foster motivation by consistently recognizing good work. Recognition is crucial to help validate employees’ work and confidence among teams. Among our executive leadership team, for example, there is friendly competition with each other to see who can recognize more people. With this focus, a more positive environment has been created and morale is increasing. I’m seeing the results — my division’s employee engagement scores are the highest they’ve been in years and are the highest in the company. Additionally, when employees see their colleagues being recognized for great work, it helps them envision what success looks like in their own role.
Communicate openly and often
Inspirational leaders listen and are open to the ideas and opinions of others. Simply surveying and getting feedback isn’t enough. True listening involves taking action on the feedback given. Reacting to a team’s needs and having an atmosphere where people learn from mistakes encourages positive relationships. I have used this approach through the years and found that it really works. My team uses various ways to share information including whiteboards, one-on-one meetings, and weekly updates.