How to effectively lead and inspire your teams Wednesday, 01 March 2017

Opinion piece by Em Prof Doug Hargreaves AM HonFIEAust CPEng EngExec NER

Engineers Australia 2010 National President Em Prof Doug Hargreaves was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his significant contribution to engineering education and the community. This accolade follows 28 years as an academic at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and 11 years in industry, including an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. He co-authored the book Values Directed Leadership.

Embedding BIP (Belonging, Identity and Purpose) into values-based leadership

Embedding Belonging, Identity and Purpose (BIP) into value-based leadership is a valuable approach that brings teams together and helps companies achieve their business goals.

Effective and respected leaders value, support and encourage people in their individual jobs and as members of a broader team. In order to do this successfully, the leader must therefore develop a sense of BIP in his or her organisational unit.

A sense of Belonging can be manifested by a person feeling that I am part of a team, I am valued, I can make a contribution, I am accountable, I feel supported, and my life priorities are respected.

Likewise, a sense of Identity can be manifested by a person feeling that I have something to offer, I am valued for who I am, my skills and experience count, I am part of something bigger than myself and I feel good about myself and about who I am.

A person experiencing a sense of Purpose might feel that I have a goal, we are going somewhere, there is direction in my work, my effort achieves, and I believe in the value of the purpose.

If people feel a strong sense of belonging to the company, they are far more likely to want to achieve the company’s targets. If people believe in the company’s overall purpose, they are going to be strongly committed to achieving the company’s goals. If their sense of their own identity is closely entwined with the company’s, the company’s success will be seen as their own success.

So how does a leader develop BIP in his/her organisation? The following simple and practical, yet powerful, example comes from my leadership of 140 staff over a seven-year period. Remembering everyone’s name and their individual skills and interests are vital, and group activities where unstructured and natural interaction take place is the perfect setting to foster this. For example, the QUT School of Engineering Systems leadership team organised a bake off once a week between 2007 and 2013, whereby a few nominated persons would provide morning tea for the rest of those who attended. Given that there were people from at least 25 countries from around the world among the team, various types of food and cultural differences soon became energetic discussion topics. So, not only did people gather to get to know each other in a fun and informal way and become invested in each other, they also learned about and appreciated each other’s cultures. And, as a result, they became much more collaborative and began helping each other with their research and other duties.

The overall outcome was that all KPIs were easily met every year.

So, with BIP, there is nothing you cannot achieve.

Image: Doug Hargreaves AM HonFIEAust CPEng EngExec NER with Dean's Scholar Students at QUT.