When we talk about leadership we generally tend to think about the inspirational leader, The Pied Piper, who has the capability of making us believe in, and do anything… and we all follow. When it comes to staff engagement in the 21st Century however, inspirational leadership is not the magic bullet. In fact, unintentionally, the inspirational leader can, and very often does dysfunction his/her followers.

Comparing systemised leadership with inspirational leadership is a bit like comparing apples with oranges. They are both fruit, but they taste, look and feel very different.

Inspirational leadership is about motivating others to take action in the direction the leader wants them to go. Inspirational leaders are focused on business goals. They are often charismatic, energetic and provide the fuel that drives the business to where it needs to go. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, an essential driving force behind most successful businesses.

Systemised leadership, on the other hand, does not rely on charismatic personalities. It does not rely on a few at the top that hold the company up like stilts, only to discover that when those stilts are taken away, the company, or part of the company, is no longer secure.

Inspirational leadership can be thought of as the “art” of leadership and systemised leadership as the “science” of leadership. It works from the bottom up or inside out, systematically building an environment where everyone takes responsibility for making the “work thing work!”

The reality is that not everyone can be an inspirational leader, but we can all take the initiative, ownership and responsibilities for our actions and our relationships at work. Today’s workplace operates in real-time, so command and control no longer has a place – for the most part anyway!

Systemised leadership by its very nature creates engaged employees who will take ownership, but only if we provide the process that supports this type of behaviour. An environment where collaborative relationships become the norm and where people learn to listen, respect and individualise, not universalise, each other’s needs.

In other words, we are all motivated by different things and therefore cannot be led in the same way. The way my leader acts to my colleague may motivate him, but dysfunction me.

Listening to the needs of individuals around us at work is the spring board to effective leadership and making people feel they are valued at work.

Just as inspirational leadership is the fuel for the business, systemised leadership is the fuel that is needed to create a productive and engaged workforce.

Both leadership methods are valid, and both are essential ingredients to make a business grow and thrive. Very often however, we expect the business leaders to be great at the “people thing” but that is a big ask.

The business leader should ensure that systemised leadership is in place in the organisation and then be free to focus on taking the business where it needs to go, confident that his/her people are onboard for the journey.

So, while the inspirational leaders are out there satisfying the demands of shareholders and inspiring customers, systemised leadership takes care of the people stuff internally.

“Leadership is too important to be left in the hands of people in authority.”
– Shay McConnon

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