10 Insights On Inspirational Leadership For 2016

Scott Mautz

Start your 2016 leadership strategy with a sense of renewal by considering the following question:

Is inspirational leadership the holy grail of leadership?

I define such a pinnacle – the holy grail of leadership – as that which engenders the highest levels of employee engagement and commitment.

So, by that definition, then yes, hands down, inspirational leadership is the summit. And your employees would agree with me.

A major study examined a half million employees and their assessment of 50,000 leaders in terms of 16 core leadership competencies. The outcome of the study showed the ability to inspire “is what most powerfully separates the most effective leaders from the average and least-effective leaders. And it is the factor most subordinates identify when asked what they would most like to have in their leader.”

A pursuit worth the effort – but then you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that. We all know how it feels when we are around an inspirational leader. Inspirational leaders spur the expenditure of discretionary energy. You feel uplifted. The power of possibility surges through you. You might even physically get the tingles as you are reminded and reinvigorated about what could lie ahead. You feel connected to the mission, to the leader, to others, and to your work. You feel worthy, and worthwhile. You aim higher and try harder. You feel compelled to take action.

You can trigger this response.

And it turns out there are plenty of opportunities to do so. In a major survey, 55 percent of managers said the ability to inspire was the single most important leadership attribute. And yet only 11 percent said their current manager was inspiring.  Anecdotally and honestly, how many of the leaders around you can you say are truly inspiring?

So there is no question of the void to be filled. The question you may have is, can inspirational leadership be taught?  In another major study, almost 900 executives were asked to pick one leadership attribute out of 16 to focus on for improvement. Among the 310 who chose to work on improving their ability to inspire others, when doing so they moved from the 42nd percentile, (below average), to the 70th percentile – a statistically positive gain and evidence that you can indeed learn to become inspiring.

You absolutely can elevate your inspirational firepower. And you don’t have to wait – you can start 2016 with a reinvigorated leadership agenda. What follows will fire you up to do just that. Here are 10 ways to inspire others to action.

1. To inspire, be inspired

To inspire others to action you have to emit a passion for your own actions. Financial guru Suze Orman has openly admitted that the single secret to her success is her willingness to show her passion for what she is doing.

Warren Buffet says that at Berkshire Hathaway, 75percent of the managers they hire are independently wealthy and don’t need to work – by design. Hiring such a profile allows them to focus on talent that simply loves and is passionate about what they’re doing “because that passion brings out an enthusiasm and a dedication in others.

2. Be custom-built contagious

Closely related to point # 1 above, while it is certain you must have passion to foster passion, it is just as essential that you demonstrate this passion and energy in your own way. If the energy is emitted in an inauthentic manner, it defeats the purpose. Yes, you can light up the room with loud and heartfelt oratory – that’s certainly one way to go if it feels natural. But introverts take heart. Some of most inspirational leaders I’ve ever seen command the room as they do what I call “elegantly electrify.” They might not even speak very often, but when they do, it is with a quiet authority and an underlying, and intense focus and passion.

There are many ways to transmit your energy. However you choose to do it, the bottom line is you must do it. It is a fundamental requirement of inspirational leaders to be able to turbocharge via osmosis.

3. Remember it’s about them, not you; a greater cause, not your cause

There is an underpinning of modesty and a sense of servitude inherent in inspirational leaders. They are connectors, not climbers, more interested in relationships than their own reward. They ultimately see their role as serving something greater than themselves and couldn’t hide it if they tried. Keep this mantra front and center for the times you might stray off center.

4. Motivate them to prove you’re right (about them)

Sorry for the tongue twister – here’s what I mean by this: The first part of this involves a commitment to actively instill confidence in others. When we do, often the first thing they want to do is demonstrate we were right to place such confidence in them. They will show their appreciation by wanting to further earn yours.

The second half of this idea though is not just to express confidence in someone and detach, letting the energy from the positive transaction wane and leaving the compliment feeling empty. Instead, remain an interested stakeholder in their ultimate success. For example, instead of just stating your confidence in someone, you can say, “I believe in you and I believe you are going to crush this project. I’m here to help you see it through to the successful conclusion of which I know you are capable.” You get the idea. Instill confidence and install a conduit of continued support. They’ll take great pride in proving your belief in them is well-warranted.

5. Inspire people to become better versions of themselves (not better versions of you)

Inherent in this sentiment is a commitment to understand the unique DNA of those you interact with and a desire to help them build from that singular blueprint. It is both an investment in and an understanding of the individual. It requires unearthing the best qualities of each person. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell likens it to the plight of the gold prospector who is “always on the lookout for potential gold mines. When they find traces of ore, prospectors assume there’s a rich vein to unearth, and they start digging. In the same fashion, inspirational leaders search for the best traits within a person and commit to uncovering them.”

6. Communicate a clear, resonant vision with stretching goals

People want to know where they are going, and why. They want to be connected to something bigger than themselves and pursue goals with intrinsic value that help them accomplish things important to them. Communicating such messages in a clear and compelling manner is a central function of the inspirational leader. And if your vision requires change by the way, make your case for change clear. People also want to be challenged and be given a chance to rise to the occasion. So set the bar high without being unrealistic.

7. Act like a pace car

In auto racing, the “pace car” rides ahead of the field for a few laps at a high, even keel speed before the race starts. Then, having enabled a running start, the pace car drops out of the way as the cars behind accelerate past with vigor. Likewise, the inspirational leader sets the pace for the organization, role modeling the behaviors they want to see, helping the “field” to a running start, and then getting out of the way after fully charging and empowering the organization.

8. Provide reality and hope

The key here is to provide a balance of both. It’s hard to be inspired by someone who infuses high doses of optimism and possibility, but is clearly not grounded in reality. Likewise, while transparency is inspiring, when that transparency involves a rough state of the union address, the constituents need to hear a reason to believe and a plan for better, brighter days ahead as well.

9. Know the tenets of “how to be,” not just “how to do” (to inspire)

Inspirational leadership is not just about how to do, it’s as much about how to be.  Research shows there are 6 core attributes that employees find most inspiring in their leader – 6 “how to be’s” if you will:

  • Be humble (people are drawn to humility, especially when it includes showing vulnerability)
  • Be authentic (which makes you accessible)
  • Be accountable (including a zeal for facing challenges head-on)
  • Be caring (including caring enough to really listen to what others have to say)
  • Be trustworthy (including doing what you say you are going to do – the well-documented  secret to Nelson Mandela being such an effective and inspirational leader)
  • Be driven (including an ability to get to the heart of the issue, cutting through the baloney, and making things happen)

10. Get (and expect) results

The truth is, while losers can be lovable and yes, at times inspiring, you are much more likely to be inspired by a lovable winner. Winners get results. Getting results inspires an organization on many levels. And expecting results does the same.

So make 2016 your year, the year you recommitted to inspirational leadership. The net result will inspire everyone involved – including you.

Want more insight on effective leadership strategies? See A Necessary Redefinition Of Responsibility And Leadership.

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What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters

Meghan M. Biro

Generation Z’s arrival in the workforce means some changes are on the horizon for recruiters. This cohort, born roughly from the mid-90s to approximately 2010, will be entering the workforce in four Hiring Generation Z words in 3d letters on an organization chart to illustrate finding young employees for your company or businessshort years, and you can bet recruiters and employers are already paying close attention to them.

This past fall, the first group of Gen Z youth began entering university. As Boomers continue to work well past traditional retirement age, four or five years from now, we’ll have an American workplace comprised of five generations.

Marketers and researchers have been obsessed with Millennials for over a decade; they are the most studied generation in history, and at 80 million strong they are an economic force to be reckoned with. HR pros have also been focused on all things related to attracting, motivating, mentoring, and retaining Millennials and now, once Gen Z is part of the workforce, recruiters will have to shift gears and also learn to work with this new, lesser-known generation. What are the important points they’ll need to know?

Northeastern University led the way with an extensive survey on Gen Z in late 2014 that included 16- through 19-year-olds and shed some light on key traits. Here are a few points from that study that recruiters should pay special attention to:

  • In general, the Generation Z cohort tends to be comprised of self-starters who have a strong desire to be autonomous. 63% of them report that they want colleges to teach them about being an entrepreneur.
  • 42% expect to be self-employed later in life, and this percentage was higher among minorities.
  • Despite the high cost of higher education, 81% of Generation Z members surveyed believe going to college is extremely important.
  • Generation Z has a lot of anxiety around debt, not only student loan debt, and they report they are very interested in being well-educated about finances.
  • Interpersonal interaction is highly important to Gen Z; just as Millennials before them, communicating via technology, including social media, is far less valuable to them than face-to-face communication.

Of course Gen Z is still very young, and their opinions as they relate to future employment may well change. For example, reality is that only 6.6% of the American workforce is self-employed, making it likely that only a small percentage of those expecting to be self-employed will be as well. The future in that respect is uncertain, and this group has a lot of learning to do and experiences yet ahead of them. However, when it comes to recruiting them, here are some things that might be helpful.

Generation Z is constantly connected

Like Millennials, Gen Z is a cohort of digital natives; they have had technology and the many forms of communication that affords since birth. They are used to instant access to information and, like their older Gen Y counterparts, they are continually processing information. Like Millennials, they prefer to solve their own problems, and will turn to YouTube or other video platforms for tutorials and to troubleshoot before asking for help. They also place great value on the reviews of their peers.

For recruiters, that means being ready to communicate on a wide variety of platforms on a continual basis. In order to recruit the top talent, you will have to be as connected as they are. You’ll need to keep up with their preferred networks, which will likely always be changing, and you’ll need to be transparent about what you want, as this generation is just as skeptical of marketing as the previous one.

Flexible schedules will continue to grow in importance

With the growth of part-time and contract workers, Gen Z will more than likely assume the same attitude their Millennial predecessors did when it comes to career expectations; they will not expect to remain with the same company for more than a few years. Flexible schedules will be a big part of their world as they move farther away from the traditional 9-to-5 job structure as work becomes more about life and less about work, and they’ll likely take on a variety of part time roles.

This preference for flexible work schedules means that business will happen outside of traditional work hours, and recruiters’ own work hours will, therefore, have to be just as flexible as their Gen Z targets’ schedule are. Companies will also have to examine what are in many cases decades old policies on acceptable work hours and business norms as they seek to not only attract, but to hire and retain this workforce with wholly different preferences than the ones that came before them. In many instances this is already happening, but I believe we will see this continue to evolve in the coming years.

Echoing the silent generation

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z came of age during difficult economic times; older Millennials were raised in the boom years. As Alex Williams points out in his recent New York Times piece, there’s an argument to be made that Generation Z is similar in attitude to the Silent Generation, growing up in a time of recession means they are more pragmatic and skeptical than their slightly older peers.

So how will this impact their behavior and desires as job candidates? Most of them are the product of Gen X parents, and stability will likely be very important to them. They may be both hard-working and fiscally savvy.

Sparks & Honey, in their much quoted slideshare on Gen Z, puts the number of high-schooler students who felt pressured by their parents to get jobs at 55 percent. Income and earning your keep are likely to be a big motivation for GenZ. Due to the recession, they also share the experience of living in multi-generational households, which may help considerably as they navigate a workplace comprised of several generations.

We don’t have all the answers

With its youngest members not yet in double digits, Gen Z is still maturing. There is obviously still a lot that we don’t know. This generation may have the opposite experience from the Millennials before them, where the older members experienced the booming economy, with some even getting a career foothold, before the collapse in 2008. Gen Z’s younger members may get to see a resurgent economy as they make their way out of college. Those younger members are still forming their personalities and views of the world; we would be presumptuous to think we have all of the answers already.

Generational analysis is part research, but also part theory testing. What we do know is that this second generation of digital natives, with its adaption of technology and comfort with the fast-paced changing world, will leave its mark on the American workforce as it makes its way in. As a result, everything about HR will change, in a big way. I wrote a post for my Forbes column recently where I said, “To recruit in this environment is like being part wizard, part astronaut, part diplomat, part guidance counselor,” and that’s very true.

As someone who loves change, I believe there has never been a more exciting time to be immersed in both the HR and the technology space. How do you feel about what’s on the horizon as it relates to the future of work and the impending arrival of Generation Z? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Social tools are playing an increasingly important role in the workplace, especially for younger workers. Learn more: Adopting Social Software For Workforce Collaboration [Video].

The post What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters appeared first on TalentCulture.

Image: Bigstock


How The Digital Economy Is Defining An Entire Generation

Julia Caruso

millennial businesswomen using digital technology at work“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As a part of the last wave of Millennials joining the workforce, I have been inspired by Jobs’ definition of innovation. For years, Millennials like me have been told that we need to be faster, better, and smarter than our peers. With this thought in mind and the endless possibilities of the Internet, it’s easy to see that the digital economy is here, and it is defining my generation.

Lately we’ve all read articles proclaiming that “the digital economy and the economy are becoming one in the same. The lines are being blurred.” While this may be true, Millennials do not see this distinction. To us, it’s just the economy. Everything we do happens in the abstract digital economy – we shop digitally, get our news digitally, communicate digitally, and we take pictures digitally. In fact, the things that we don’t do digitally are few and far between.

Millennial disruption: How to get our attention in the digital economy

In this fast-moving, highly technical era, innovation and technology are ubiquitous, forcing companies to deliver immediate value to consumers. This principle is ingrained in us – it’s stark reality. One day, a brand is a world leader, promising incredible change. Then just a few weeks later, it disappears. Millennials view leaders of the emerging (digital) economy as scrappy, agile, and comfortable making decisions that disrupt the norm, and that may or may not pan out.

What does it take to earn the attention of Millennials? Here are three things you should consider:

1. Millennials appreciate innovations that reinvent product delivery and service to make life better and simpler.

Uber, Vimeo, ASOS, and Apple are some of the most successful disruptors in the current digital economy. Why? They took an already mature market and used technology to make valuable connections with their Millennial customers. These companies did not invent a new product – they reinvented the way business is done within the economy. They knew what their consumers wanted before they realized it.

Millennials thrive on these companies. In fact, we seek them out and expect them to create rapid, digital changes to our daily lives. We want to use the products they developed. We adapt quickly to the changes powered by their new ideas or technologies. With that being said, it’s not astonishing that Millennials feel the need to connect regularly and digitally.

2. It’s not technology that captures us – it’s the simplicity that technology enables.

Recently, McKinsey & Company revealed that “CEOs expect 15%–50% of their companies’ future earnings to come from disruptive technology.” Considering this statistic, it may come as a surprise to these executives that buzzwords – including cloud, diversity, innovation, the Internet of Things, and future of work – does not resonate with us. Sure, we were raised on these terms, but it’s such a part of our culture that we do not think about it. We expect companies to deeply embed this technology now.

What we really crave is technology-enabled simplicity in every aspect of our lives. If something is too complicated to navigate, most of us stop using the product. And why not? It does not add value if we cannot use it immediately.

Many experts claim that this is unique to Millennials, but it truly isn’t. It might just be more obvious and prevalent with us. Some might translate our never-ending desire for simplicity into laziness. Yet striving to make daily activities simpler with the use of technology has been seen throughout history. Millennials just happen to be the first generation to be completely reliant on technology, simplicity, and digitally powered “personal” connections.

3. Millennials keep an eye on where and how the next technology revolution will begin.

Within the next few years Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, the onslaught of coverage on the evolution of technology will most likely be phased out. While the history of technology is significant for our predecessors, this not an overly important story for Millennials because we have not seen the technology evolution ourselves. For us, the digital revolution is a fact of life.

Companies like SAP, Amazon, and Apple did not invent the wheel. Rather, they were able to create a new digital future. For a company to be successful, senior leaders must demonstrate a talent for R&D genius as well as fortune-telling. They need to develop easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, market them effectively to the masses, and maintain their product elite. It’s not easy, but the companies that upend an entire industry are successfully balancing these tasks.

Disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. Get ready!

Across every industry, big players are threatened — not only by well-known competitors, but by small teams sitting in a garage drafting new ideas that could turn the market upside down. In reality, anyone, anywhere, at any time can cause disruption and bring an idea to life.

Take my employer SAP, for example. With the creation of SAP S/4HANA, we are disrupting the tech market as we help our customers engage in digital transformation. By removing data warehousing and enabling real-time operations, companies are reimagining their future. Organizations such as La Trobe University, the NFL, and Adidas have made it easy to understand and conceptualize the effects using data in real time. But only time will tell whether Millennials will ever realize how much disruption was needed to get where we are today.

Find out how SAP Services & Support you can minimize the impact of disruption and maximize the success of your business. Read SAP S/4HANA customer success stories, visit the SAP Services HUB, or visit the customer testimonial page on


About Julia Caruso

Julia Caruso is a Global Audience Marketing Specialist at SAP. She is responsible for developing strategic digital media plans and working with senior executives to create high level content for SAP S/4HANA and SAP Activate.

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Christopher Koch

Robots: Job Destroyers or Human Partners? [INFOGRAPHIC]

To learn more about how humans and robots will co-evolve, read the in-depth report Bring Your Robot to Work.

Download the PDF (91KB)


About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is the Editorial Director of the SAP Center for Business Insight. He is an experienced publishing professional, researcher, editor, and writer in business, technology, and B2B marketing. Share your thoughts with Chris on Twitter @Ckochster.


What Is The Key To Rapid Innovation In Healthcare?

Paul Clark

Healthcare technology has already made incredible advancements, but digital transformation of the healthcare industry is still considered in its infancy. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead for the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) are astounding.

Many health organizations recognize the importance of going digital and have already deployed programs involving IoT, cloud, Big Data, analytics, and mobile technologies. However, over the last decade, investments in many e-health programs have delivered only modest returns, so the progress of healthcare technology has been slow out of the gate.

What’s slowing the pace of healthcare innovation?

In the past, attempts at rapid innovation in healthcare have been bogged down by a slew of stakeholders, legacy systems, and regulations that are inherent to the industry. This presents some Big Data challenges with connected healthcare, such as gathering data from disparate silos of medical information. Secrecy is also an ongoing challenge, as healthcare providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions tend to protect personal and proprietary data. These issues have caused enormous complexity and have delayed or deterred attempts to build fully integrated digital healthcare systems.

So what is the key to rapid innovation?

According to the Connected Care eBook, healthcare organizations can overcome these challenges by using new technologies and collaborating with other players in the healthcare industry, as well as partners outside of the industry, to get the most benefit out of digital technology.

To move forward with digital transformation in healthcare, there is a need for digital architectures and platforms where a number of different technologies can work together from both a technical and a business perspective.

The secret to healthcare innovation: connected health platforms

New platforms are emerging that foster collaboration between different technologies and healthcare organizations to solve complex medical system challenges. These platforms can support a broad ecosystem of partners, including developers, researchers, and healthcare organizations. Healthcare networks that are connected through this type of technology will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative, patient-centered solutions.

Platforms and other digital advancements present exciting new business opportunities for numerous healthcare stakeholders striving to meet the increasing expectations of tech-savvy patients.

The digital evolution of the healthcare industry may still be in its infancy, but it is growing up fast as new advancements in technology quickly develop. Are you ready for the next phase of digital transformation in the global healthcare industry?

For an in-depth look at how technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

See how the digital era is affecting the business environment in the SAP eBook The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital transformation in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.