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How should leaders inspire their employees?

In order to get the best from your employees, the single greatest thing you can do is inspire them. Inspired employees are better motivated, better engaged, and more committed in their roles. They are more proactive, productive and achieve better outcomes as a result. But how do leaders go about inspiring their employees? Here we take a look.

Spending time with your employees

A recent study by Leadership IQ looked at how much time leaders should spend with employees in order to increase their engagement, inspiration and innovation. The study of more than 30,000 people revealed that, unsurprisingly, the more time leaders spend with employees the better the outcomes were.

Interestingly, the curve of the graph flattens off around six hours, leading the study to conclude that six hours is an optimal amount of time for leaders to be spending directly interacting with employees. However, with such large spans of control in many businesses, one-on-one time with each team member is an impossible task, but all is not lost. Up to the six-hour pinnacle, the study showed a linear increase of positive impact to time spent – every minute you give your employees generates benefits.

(It's worth noting that this time spent does not have to be in-person, it could be over the phone, video call, etc. What is important though is that it is one-on-one interaction.)

In his video of the study’s outcomes, Mark Murphy goes on to highlight the importance of prioritising who gets that time. Think of your staff as you would your customers. Just as you would focus your attention on your best customers, you should give more time to your high performers – they should be your priority.

This is something Forbes has also picked up on. This article discusses how managers often spend 80% of their time with 20% of their workers. That’s not to say that you should ignore or disregard your lower performing team members, just that you should become aware of whether you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on average employees. Time that could have a huge influence if spent directly interacting with others.

More ways to motivate...

It is evident that spending time with employees has a profound impact, but what more can you do to inspire them? Here are 5 ways you can be a leader who motivates. Combine these with that one-on-one time and you’ll have a recipe for success!

1. Tailor your approach

When spending the quality time directly interacting with a member of your team, it is important that you know the people you are shooting to inspire, and tailor your approach accordingly. Employees require a leader who genuinely cares and pays attention. And leaders must understand the tendencies and behaviours of their employees in order to get the best from them.

2. Craft an open environment

Employees respond in a hugely positive way to a leader who is open and honest. Crafting a trusting environment in the workplace begins at the top. So, whether it’s discussing the challenges the business is facing, or sharing the truth about what went wrong with a client, it is important that you build an open culture. Not only will your teams gain respect for you, but they may end up being part of a solution.

3. Develop your team

Teaching and guiding your team means more than just delivering the odd inspirational lecture. In order to support employees in a meaningful way it is essential that you not only teach them, but facilitate their learning too. Leaders can inspire employees by providing them with the tools to perform better in their roles. This could be in the form of new software investment and training, or a professional development qualification.

4. Reward employees

There’s no doubt about it, incentives inspire performance. But often it is not just the monetary value of the reward, but the recognition associated with it that is important. Being a leader who acknowledges an employee’s achievement will inspire the performance of your entire team.

5. Pave the path to success

It’s almost too obvious to say, but a top way to inspire your employees is leading by example! Demonstrate values and create positive change. Have goals and invest in personal development. Communicate with your team in a way which resonates, be approachable and work collaboratively too. Show your team that you are authentic, by being authentic! Pave the path to success by being a leader worth following.