We can all get better as leaders in our ability to inspire.
Inspiration followed by action, is powerful. When combined with a shared vision, objective, or goal, the resulting performance can be magical. Why, then, aren’t we always inspiring?
For most leaders, leading and creating a workplace culture where people are motivated to do what is needed isn’t always easy, even though everyone knows what to do.
Weaving a lean improvement culture, where known ways of doing things are improved little by little over time, can be harder.
Being inspiring in a way that others become inspired—to behave differently, work together in a new way, or create something that initially seemed impossible—is very hard. Few leaders catalyze the magic that happens with inspiration. Even fewer continue to do so time after time.
Luckily there are 3 ways to be more inspiring.
Do these 3 things consistently and people will, at minimum, become more engaged and motivated to stretch to new ways of being, doing, and working together:
- Be inspired before communicating what you hope others will be inspired by.
- Don’t wait for fear-driven urgency; practice being an inspiring leader every day.
- Share authority.
Be inspired before communicating what you hope others will be inspired by.
Let’s say you want to grow revenue by 20%. That certainly sounds like what should be a strategic objective. Yet, right now for you, those words “grow revenue by 20%” feels like a “to do” or “should do” but not a “Yes!” so inspiring that you get goosebumps.
Going through the motions that you do every year, such as placing this 20% goal in a budget with expenses adjusted to fit, and then passionately expressing you’re sure that everyone will do their part to meet budgeted expectations is not inspiring. You want it, but you aren’t inspired. There’s no compelling reason for others to be inspired or even want that, other than possibly those with bonus or commission who would be motivated by their financial gains.
What might you do differently to first be inspired?
What if you noticed that you weren’t inspired and started asking yourself questions about what would inspire you, and if that would lead to a 20% growth in revenue? Perhaps you simply need to show that growth to shareholders (although this is unlikely to inspire employees with no or few shares). Perhaps you really want to invest in a new innovation and need the added cash flow (presuming that if revenues increase, expenses won’t expand even more). Perhaps you want to start adding more perks that will be desired by your teams. Keep going through ideas of what would be inspiring, and make sure that is what you are focusing on and communicating.
Don’t wait for fear-driven urgency; practice being an inspiring leader every day.
We learned a lot of what is possible with the teams we have during the pandemic. But for many organizations this has been (or will be) short lived. People were driven by urgency rather than inspiration, in most cases. And now they are tired, overwhelmed, and unclear what this added effort did for them personally. In part this lack of inspiration is showing up in what is being called “the great resignation” and as expectations from those still in the workplace for higher pay and more flexibility. Cost of living has gone up, but the expectations are at a higher level than what a cost of living increase would give.
What will it take to shift your team’s mindset from “expecting” to “inspired?”
Start brainstorming with your leadership team, peer group, coach, or other trusted advisors. And please test with your employees before you think what you want for them is truly what they want for themselves. You can always ask.
Empowerment is inspiring.
What do you anticipate happening if you ask people in your organization what they would like to see more or less of in their role? You might fear that what they want is well beyond what your business can support, financially or operationally. This is your opportunity to share authority.
What if you ask them how they can see what they want happening? What might you then share with them to keep the discussion alive, so that you both come away with some workable ideas? Maybe even inspiration! Continue to find ways to share authority.