Imagine a working environment where everybody is enjoying what they are doing and where a person’s performance is not purely driven by their need or want for money and status. To many people, work feels more like an arduous labour to pay the bills when it really should feel more purpose driven and fulfilling than this. This is where leaders have a powerful influence; to cultivate an intrinsically motivated workforce.
According to Hannes Leroy, Associate Professor at Erasmus University and Distinguished Research Professor at Exeter Business School, leaders have the responsibility to influence their followers to work from a place of what truly motivates them, and not purely because they have to, to get paid.
Also the Academic Director of the Erasmus Centre of Leadership, Hannes helps to oversee the quality of leadership development at different levels in Erasmus University. Through his experience, he has learnt that leaders need to extend their mindset around their roles to go beyond the belief that we’re just there to set and communicate goals to teams.
One of the key things that he advocates for all leaders is to encourage and lean into curiosity with their followers.
What should curiosity look like as a leader? As a thought starter, think about what it means to be curious about other human beings. Hannes says that if a leader wants to help an employee to achieve a goal, they should be curious from the start and ask probing questions like, who are you, what do you want in life? He believes this to be a vital way to find out how each person is wired.
Understanding how people are wired is key for any leader to truly understand how best to navigate the way in which they work with their team. He says that leaders need more than listening skills, and by being fundamentally curious about the person (the who) of the employee, this should extend to non-work aspects too.
By adopting this approach towards people, leaders can then take that information about the people in their teams and design people’s jobs in ways that they will find pleasing to perform. This is more practical than it sounds, as you will then also be able to frame certain tasks in ways that individuals can understand.
Hannes goes on to say that leaders should be asking their employees more questions and should be intentional about displaying genuine interest in the personal stories of their followers. While the balancing act between professionalism and personal life is the obvious concern for most people in business, when you consider that you spend most of your awake time in the workplace, and interacting with people in the work environment, this is in fact one of the few places where you do have the opportunity to develop personal connections.
With this in mind Hannes has made it a point to listen to people with the idea that he will learn something interesting and useful that he may use in his leadership at some point.
In this Exponentially Me podcast, Hannes Leroy shares more about his views on leadership and relationships and why it is important that if you are a leader, you should strive to be fundamentally curious about people and how you can cultivate an environment where people feel like they can come to you with honest feedback and open ideas.