The definition of leadership says: leadership is a process (action in time) in which a leader, together with his followers, influencing them, pursues a common goal. The definition of leadership includes the following components: leader, followers, influence, and overall purpose.
It is the element of the common goal – creating change, problem-solving, challenge – that separates leaders and ‘influencers’ (opinion formers). After all, the latter do not have a common goal with their followers, at the same time they do not create change; Influencers pursue their (non-general) goals of advertising revenue. Well unless any rally or any wave in society is organized.
However, in this comment, I want to pay more attention to the goal, the vision. Until now, the vision has been seen as a “black box” whose components are unclear. The most important thing is to create hope, a willingness to sacrifice, to achieve a common goal. We felt it was important to respond to the needs of the aspirants, but we did not know how it worked. For example, the company’s vision to become the No. 1 in the world sounded at best for ten to fifteen percent of employees – a major achievement for those competitors for whom “being the No. 1” is a value.
Today, neuroscience provides more knowledge about our motivation. When the proposed goal (vision) responds to what is important to us (you could say our values), the dopamine pathway in our brain is activated, which determines the desire to act, that is, motivation and energy. If the goal does not match what is important to us, dopamine in the brain is no different, it means there is neither motivation, nor desire, nor energy to achieve the goal.
What does this mean? This means that we really need to focus on who we work with and what is important to our people, what responds to their fundamental needs. We can also look at this issue in several ways – one that I want to create, another that is important to people.
So, if I want to create innovation as a leader, I have to look for people in my team for whom innovation, progress, competence is value, otherwise, I will have a pitfall of sluggishness without energy. If I want to provide the highest quality services, I have to bring together employees who have positive customer feedback, the work done flawlessly is rewarding, otherwise, I will fight the windmills.
On the other hand, a team of people is not infrequently a gift, and I have to respond to their needs to agree. Who cares about well-being, who cares about a quiet, comfortable life without tension, who is looking for challenges and interesting work? Consequently, I have to make the right proposal, communicate the vision accurately, the common goal.
And who would answer the hearts of Lithuanians the most today? We hear a variety of needs: the preservation of Catholic family traditions, equal opportunities and rights for everyone, freedom of expression (whatever that may be), the need for peace and harmony, and the status of one of the most advanced countries in North-Eastern Europe, a healthy economy and sustainable development of the country, and beautiful, green, ecological cities.
In fact, in the actions of today’s Lithuanian leaders we see better or worse solved mathematical problems. Some make decisions by counting the moods of the majority, others mobilize or serve their constituents, and a third tries to put one shoe on the whole nation. Let us admit that the way in which Lithuania is trying to establish new principles of society has only further concentrated and strengthened the desire to defend values on both sides of the barricades.
They want focused people, energy, we must not just respond to the need, and the unifying value must sound in the hearts of both the leader and the people. In this way, Lithuanian partisans, the movement for Lithuanian independence, children’s rights defenders, and even some participants of the Family March or the LGBT movement united. The expected reward of the goal – the entrenched principles of society that are important to me personally awakens motivation to act and energy.
Is it possible to artificially create, activate need? Yes, it is possible. Especially by manipulating insecurity, constantly tapping a finger at an imaginary threat, or exploiting high levels of dissatisfaction with COVID. Part of the existing resistance seems to be based on the need to vent accumulated anger. Let it not become a self-operating mill of anger.
It is gratifying, at least, that the Lithuanian nation has a lot of energy, which, if necessary, we will be able to direct towards creation and construction.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, Leadership Program Manager at ISM University of Management and Economics, certified ICC coach for the Baltic countries.