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People Follow People, Not Just Great Ideas

What makes Pope Francis such an inspirational leader for so many people? I believe Reverend. Robert A. Sirico got it right in his recent opinion piece for The Detroit News:

“In a monumental and unanticipated way Pope Francis is changing the tired conversations of the past and inviting us to engage in a process of healing so desperately needed in our world today.  Almost single-handedly he is changing the way in which people view Catholicism.”

 Perhaps more importantly, I believe this new pope is changing the way we see leadership.  He is shining the spotlight of our attention on how to “lead positive” while reconstructing a global institution that finds its members “wounded” and its positive impact severely compromised.

In an interview for America Magazine, the pope explained that, “the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He sees the church as a “field hospital after battle.”

Think about other institutions and organizations that could easily qualify as a “field hospital.”  In our consulting practice we encounter countless examples of embattled companies that need to “warm the hearts” of their employees after downsizings, merger integration challenges and severe market downturns.

“It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars!  You have to heal his wounds.  Then we can talk about everything else.  Heal the wounds.”

Tending to the aspirations and desires of employees traumatized by negative change is the first step to regaining an organization’s equilibrium and profitability.  I advise leaders to focus first on doing whatever it takes to create a culture of high engagement, wherein employees at all levels feel like they matter.  Reconstructing a viable organization requires that each employee feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company and the new goals.

To lead positive, why not take a page out of Pope Francis’s playbook? Create a vision that speaks directly to your follower’s personal motivations. It is easy to forget that leading is as much about inspiring the imagination and actions of followers as it is about getting the direction and strategy right. But research tells us that when people at every level feel they can contribute to achieving the vision, their ownership and commitment to execution grows exponentially. For a motivating and rewarding future for all, ensure that your group’s desires become part of the mosaic of your vision.

How can you hook your leadership goals to the aspirations of your team members? Spend the time to find out what they need and what they want to create an inspiring vision for all.

Photo by: photopin

Dr. Kathy Cramer

Kathryn D. Cramer, PH.D.
Founder and Managing Partner, The Cramer Institute