Controlling or Inspiring?

leadership self-awareness weekly workout Aug 19, 2022

I have noticed over the last several years how aware many people have become regarding the negative impacts of acting in a controlling or domineering manner.

Although it has not been the case for many years, there was a time when a domineering leadership style was acceptable and even normal.

Some research shows that in times of uncertainty and fear some people prefer a more assertive or dominant style, however, that is not necessarily the case the majority of the time.

I believe that there is a direct correlation between the need to control vs. the ability to inspire. Controlling can be very detrimental to both the one controlling and those being controlled.

If you are controlling, you are forced to remain hyper-aware of everything going on and there is a tendency to micromanage. I have not met a person in or out of the workplace that responds in a positive way to being micromanaged.

One of the leadership skills that will help you move away from controlling behavior is learning how to inspire others.

Merriam Webster defines inspiration as: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.

For me inspiring is just slightly different than motivating. As a leader, I believe that developing both of these characteristics is important in effectively leading others. When I think of motivating others, I am understanding the desires, needs, and goals of the other to support them in achieving those goals.

When I think of inspiring in addition to the behaviors required to motivate, you add the element of sharing your experience in an effort to capture or create resonance between yourself and the other individual.

Being a good leader means that you have developed the ability to accurately assess when team members are not motivated and therefore not meeting expectations or deadlines. 

Extraordinary leadership means that you are also able to identify precisely what will create that emotional or intellectual movement in the right direction. In some cases, motivation might be the solution while in other cases the situation might require motivation and inspiration.

One of the challenges that I see in working with newly promoted clients is their ability to move from a “manager” frame of reference into a “leader” frame of reference. Shifting from a managing or controlling mindset into an inspiring and motivating mindset takes practice and time. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive and there are many managers who are also great leaders.

As you journey towards extraordinary leadership try the following exercise.

Think of the leaders who inspire you and ask yourself:

  1. What does inspire mean to me?
  2. Why and how does this person inspire me?
  3. Do motivate and inspire hold the same meaning for me?
  4. Am I able to identify those times when I need inspiration vs or in addition to motivation?

Understanding these questions for yourself will help you in cultivating the ability to learn to inspire others.

So much of the time when we inspire others, we are offering the element of “hope” which can be very powerful in moving people and emotions.

If you do not feel that you have an experience to share that is appropriate or will apply to the given situation sometimes it only takes “normalizing” to create the element of hope.

In working with clients who might be struggling with an issue or not developing as quickly as they would like I normalize what they are going through. When people understand that the challenges and struggles, they are experiencing are common or “normal” they find relief and gain hope.

As you grow in your ability to accurately assess any situation think in terms of how you might both motivate and inspire those around you.

If you tend to use controlling words and behavior work on shifting to the idea of inspiring and notice how your relationship improves.

Be BOLD be Inspiring!

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