A developmental milestone is reached when the leader is able to build trust and motivation with their employees to the degree that they are willing to openly follow their direction regardless of circumstances. This is not achieved until a leader is able to demonstrate—through personal example—that they have earned their employee’s respect and admiration.
The practice of interactive leadership provides leaders with a distinct set of advantages that cannot be realized without their active presence. This enables them to establish trust, credibility and respect. These are all elements that buttress a leader’s ability to personally lead their organization and motivate his or her employees to follow.
It is one thing to lead an organization and quite another to motivate individuals to follow. The practice of interactive leadership demonstrates the character, ability and integrity of a leader and motivates individual employees to follow.
The practice of interactive leadership spotlights the individual leader and gives them the platform to shine by motivating their employees and effectively moving the organization forward.
Interactive leadership is also the practice of leadership by example, and places all a leader says or does under the close scrutiny of their employees. Effective leaders use this to their advantage by practicing the following techniques:
Sell the Vision
In the storms of change and transformation, the leader’s compass is his or her personal vision of the organization, its goals and potential accomplishments.
Interactive leadership provides leaders with ample opportunities to “proselytize,” or sell their vision to their employees every time the opportunity arises. This often means leaders are constantly talking about their vision and the positive changes that will take place when it is achieved.
The importance of a leader selling his or her vision cannot be overemphasized. As a leader, the goal is to motivate and lead employees. An essential part of motivation is selling employees on the vision and getting them to individually accept and “buy into” that vision as their own.
Since organizational transformation in the face of change is normally a lengthy process, leaders must take every opportunity to remind their employees of the direction in which they are headed, and motivate them to continually work toward the accomplishment of their shared vision.
Walk the Talk
Interactive leadership places leaders under the microscope of employees who are continually assessing integrity and credibility.
The practice of interactive management allows leaders to demonstrate their true character and build trust and loyalty with their employees. This is accomplished by a consistency in words and actions—the measure employees use to gauge a leader.
Consequently it is crucial for leaders to make certain they follow through on what they promise. If this is not possible, they have a good reason and take the time to explain why their promise cannot be kept.
Trust, credibility and loyalty are established when employees, associates and superiors know they can take what a leader says “to the bank,” and that what he or she promises will be done.
This trust is strengthened and a strong bond created when a leader clearly demonstrates by actions that he or she places their employee’s interests above their own personal agenda.
Empower and Delegate
The practice of interactive leadership strengthens trust between leaders and employees when leaders actively empower employees and delegate tasks and assignments as needed.
Empowering employees, groups and teams “on the fly” and delegating assignments when feasible allows leaders to swiftly respond to the rapid pace of change—as well as resolve problems and frustrations as or even before they occur.
The rapid pace of change creates its own sense of urgency, but as transformation often takes time, leaders must motivate employees by further instilling this sense in them. This is best accomplished when leaders introduce new ideas and concepts, test them quickly, learn from the failures and move on to the next idea.
It is through this process of continual adaptation and refinement of ideas and concepts that a sense of urgency is developed that keeps the organization moving forward toward transformation. In the absence of this sense of urgency it is easy for employees to fall into complacency.
Interactive leadership is built upon open communication and the ability of leaders to actively listen and respond to feedback and ideas offered by subordinates. This allows leaders to use all of their physical senses to observe and learn firsthand what is happening within their organization and to minimize the distortion of information.
When leaders are ever-present and openly and actively interacting with their employees, they are able to identify and remove frustrations and barriers impeding forward movement.
Leaders openly empower their employees to overcome barriers and delegate the creation and implementation of the solution to them. Often these barriers come in the form of minor problems and issues that can be handled by frontline employees without the direct intervention of the leader. This enables the organization to be more responsive and productive.
Celebrate the Little Successes
The open presence of the leader among his or her employees allows them to plan for short-term wins and successes. These are important since the lengthy term of transformation can cause employees to lose sight of their goals and motivation.
The celebration of short-term and minor successes maintains employee focus and keeps them motivated to continue to work toward the long-term success of the organization.
Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction
: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)