Invitational Leadership: Engaging Your Team Beyond Directives

If you’re a leader, you have the power to dictate what people should know and do. However, there’s another, often more effective approach: inviting them into the process. Let’s explore how.

Certainly, as a leader, you can make requests and set demands. Typically, your team will adhere to them, and this method can be effective for a while.

But think about how you personally react when someone asks something of you, and you neither understand the rationale nor completely agree with it. You might think, “Alright, I’ll comply.” Yet, your acceptance is fragile, akin to placing a book atop a precarious stack. It remains stable for a bit, but with the slightest disruption, it topples. It’s a fleeting commitment.

A more engaging approach is to invite your team into the vision or action you’d like them to adopt.

When you invite, you present an opportunity. You grant them agency, signaling that it’s in their interest to embark on this journey with you.

So, how do you transform a mere request into a compelling invitation?

State your perspective.

Your viewpoint likely differs from those you’re trying to persuade. Clarifying your stance helps bridge this gap. This could involve sharing exclusive information or explaining how you interpreted data to arrive at a specific decision.

Highlight the ‘why’. Then reiterate it.

There’s probably a strong justification for the course of action you’re proposing. Articulate this rationale—repeatedly and in varied ways. It’s surprising how often people need reminders, especially concerning high-stakes matters.

Share your emotional response.

Whether it’s concern or enthusiasm, let it be known. Leaders sometimes suppress such feelings to project unwavering confidence, especially during challenging times. Yet, expressing genuine emotion can make your invitation more relatable, helping your team not only understand the necessity but also feel it.

With these strategies in play, your team won’t just follow—you’ll find them actively journeying alongside you, rather than searching for the nearest exit.

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

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