The Inspiration Ladder helps you determine your position in your Leadership Journey. You will be able to do this with reasonable accuracy by assessing the stage you (the leader) and your follower are at. If you are at the Mentor Stage, your team will ideally be at the same stage or one stage below.
All leadership starts at this stage. Perfect it.
The key to teaching is how you teach. Use words and methodologies that inspire curiosity and a desire to learn more. Your students will probably be new to the job market or they haven’t moved up the ladder because of poor leadership previously or negative attitudes. Be aware of these possibilities. You have to teach, to prompt, to give clear direction and to always recognise their small wins, so that they will gain confidence to take the next step.
At this stage, it may not be too productive to ask for too much feedback or opinions. Your team will be too scared and may not have enough confidence. They will want to play it safe, so give them safety.
If your team has evolved to the 2nd stage or you have been assigned to a team consisting mainly of 2nd-stagers, then your approach has to change.
You will now have to be an Overseer; someone who doesn’t teach so much as guide them. You are in the building stage, not the directive one. Your team will have more confidence than at the previous stage and they want to take on more responsibility and risk. Give them that trust, but be near enough to prompt, guide and reassure them if the ride gets rocky.
At this stage, your style is also more collaborative than instructional. You ask questions more and accept deferring opinions more.
The Mentoring Leader is quite hands-off. They will seek to increasingly hand over responsibility to their team.
The measure of a leader’s success at this stage is when your team starts volunteering ideas and solutions, when they want to lead projects or initiatives, or when they even start contradicting your ideas. When they do this, they are entering the Leadership Boom Stage. They are exploding into a different leadership reality and they will feel euphoria at their own growth. Your job here is to give energy to that explosion.
Only a few buttons need to be pushed to inspire your team because they have the momentum; they are in the zone. Be excited with them.
This is the pinnacle of transformational leadership, the highest level. If you have navigated your leadership journey well, you will now be able to get out of the way.
Persons in your team, probably not everyone, have now become independent, and are now well on their own leadership journey. They are even happily building their own leaders, following your model.
In its ultimate expression, this stage makes you a Learner. You now learn from the person you taught, oversaw, and mentored. The teacher has become the student in some ways. Nothing to be ashamed about. It shows that you have walked your leadership journey very well.
Time to move on, friend. To evolve to a higher level or to another team.
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