Poor leadership is often at the heart of business failure. So how do you train managers to become inspirational leaders? Leadership coach David Ferrers explains his story.
If management is mainly concerned with the design and implementation of process, and leadership is about getting the best out of the people who will implement the process, the question is: what is the best way to train managers to become inspirational leaders?
The challenge is to make learning exciting. Adventure excites. So, how do you deliver leadership lessons as adventures? One answer is to write a business adventure story that incorporates leadership coaching. That is exactly what I decided to do in my book, Ignite Your Inner Leader.
The big advantage of a novel is that it makes it enjoyable to follow the leader as he implements the coaching he is receiving. In a difficult environment we see how he manages a line manager with an old-fashioned command and control style; we watch as he transforms demoralised staff into an enthusiastic team. We are in the meetings when he inspires his followers. We are flies on the wall as he builds a network by creating meaningful relationships in a town where he is an outsider.
Rising to leadership challenges
Business leadership is about creating work environments in which people thrive, feel happy and want to give their best. What I aim to do in my novel is demonstrate how a determined young leader can create a vibrant workplace in which energised workers take responsibility for delivering high-quality work.
The progress of our hero in Ignite Your Inner Leader is frequently blocked by ingrained cultures, old-fashioned procedures, uninspiring environments, politics and – of course – a lack of resources. We follow him as he manages to overcome such obstacles by creating initiatives that inspire people, by using his network of contacts and by sheer determination.
In the workplace, feelings are of paramount importance because our feelings are the source of our physical and mental energy.
To understand this, just recall a time when someone at work became seriously angry. They are fuming, they pace about cursing, slamming and stamping – the energy they are using is enormous. Conversely think about when someone was really depressed. They sit lethargically at their desk – their output is minimal – they infect those around them with their lack of energy.
Many emotions become contagious when they infect the workplace. Fear and anxiety are highly infectious – think how quickly “bad news” rumours spread around the office. Luckily, happiness and enthusiasm are also just as infectious.
I believe the secret of a highly energised workplace is to create and broadcast positive emotions. Leadership therefore is creative and my book shows us how to use and develop the art of leading by using emotions positively.
Making learning memorable
We all remember the fables and nursery rhymes from our childhood. The Tortoise and the Hare, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Miss Muffet are all hot-wired into our memories. Because these stories are vivid and simple, we retain them throughout our lives and pass them on to our children. So I hope that, by imparting leadership lessons in a story, I make the lessons more memorable and easier for people to re-enact in their own lives.
The trick to making this style of presentation work is to ensure there is enough coaching for the reader to be able to understand what they need to do to make the approach work. So the early chapters of the book include dialogue between a young leader and his leadership coach. We then see how these lessons are interpreted and implemented in real-life situations as the story unfolds.