It’s been a grueling five years of bailouts, rampant unemployment, sluggish consumer confidence and declining home values. For those still lucky enough to be employed, the doom and gloom has manifested in the form of insecurity, fear, stress and overwork.
In a survey conducted in September 2010, CareerBuilder found that 51 percent of workers feel their workloads have increased during the last six months. What’s more, 26 percent have experienced health issues tied to stress on the job.
Employees are burnt out. Leaders are, too. Employees have been working themselves thin for so long that they’re either looking for a new job or hoping for a change. Leaders, meanwhile, know that the only way they’ll survive is to light a fire under their employees — to get them motivated, engaged and passionate about their work.
But trying to do so with a worn-down spirit and kit of blunt leadership tools is a bit like fueling a rocket ship with tepid bath water. Today, organizations have to change the way they lead their people.
The future is ripe for those companies that have the “mojo” — those able not just to withstand change, but to actually create change in their favor. To some, that requires a business culture with no sharply defined leaders and followers.
How can leaders break the self-destructive cycle and change the current unhealthy employer/employee dynamic? To motivate others, leaders must first learn how to motivate themselves.
Here are tips to do just that:
Admit to having a “mojo” dysfunction. Before leaders can reignite others, they must reignite themselves. Much like an alcoholic looking to sober up, the first step is admitting there is a problem —“Hello, my name is ______ and I am an old-paradigm command-and-control leader. It’s time for me to rediscover my basic leadership beliefs and leverage them into a new beginning.”
Realize personal change is necessary. Business transformation begins with personal transformation. Only when leaders recharge their leadership “mojo” — getting back to their basic beliefs and rediscovering their passion in light of a new reality — can they truly transform themselves and their company.
Find individual competencies. Leaders should acknowledge to themselves and others what they’re good at and not so good at. This is only a starting point, however. Reflection of strengths and weaknesses is absolutely essential.
Being capable of performing is not enough. Just being capable will seldom give someone the advantage needed to spark real change. Finding one’s competency is more about the recipe than the ingredients.
Translate that competency into value. Leaders should consider what others feel when they hear their name. What is their “mojo”? Once they figure out how to provide value to their organization, their organization will be able to share that value with customers.
Create a solid platform for work. For individual leaders, the skeletons of their platforms — the skills, experience and knowledge that define who they are — were constructed a long time ago. But are there missing planks? Leaders should consider acquiring new skills and experiences; then, figure out how to fill in the holes with those new skills, experiences and knowledge.
Awaken a cause. Leaders should find the one thing inside their company that they feel passionate about. Maybe it’s customer service. Maybe it’s mentoring. Maybe it’s product innovation. Whatever the cause may be, make it a mantra. Let it drive everything. “Mojo” begins and ends with their realized purpose — and leadership “mojo” is unstoppable if powered by a powerful cause.
Commit to servant leadership. Gandhi was not capable of being a good lawyer. In fact, he was laughed out of his first case. Eventually, however, he realized he was at his best when he was serving others — it was his power source. Being successful in business means bringing back leadership “mojo” in a different way — not based on ego, but in service to a higher order.
Find and leverage momentum. What is momentum? It is the force of an idea and the acceleration one gives to take hold of a market. The Pet Rock from the 1970s represents speed, which is just force applied to an idea. On the other hand, the iPhone represents momentum — it’s something people needed and wanted without realizing they needed and wanted it.
Leaders learn through active engagement in problem solving and opportunity creation. As momentum is idea-tied, learning accelerates about how markets form and create. Companies that don’t understand momentum will miss the drivers that indicate where it is going. Those that do will get there first with products designed to succeed.
Mohan Nair is author of Strategic Business Transformation: The 7 Deadly Sins to Overcome. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.