As a leader, you are expected to inspire others, but where do you get your inspiration from? In the hectic schedule of this frantic world, it can be difficult to find the time and space to inspire yourself; let alone others. Yet you need to be inspired to be inspiring. It is about being mindful of those things that refresh the spirit and impact positively on the inner self.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
– John Quincy Adam
What does it mean to inspire?
The dictionary tells us that to inspire means literally to ‘breathe in’. Practically, it means to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. It is about infusing feelings into people, which means appealing to their emotions. It can also mean to motivate, encourage, enthuse or arouse.
Do your actions or communication cause people to take a sharp intake of breath (in a positive way!) – to be motivated and emotionally moved; or create the ‘wow’ factor?
Why do you need to inspire?
As a leader, people will see you as a role model. If you are not inspired to perform, then why should they be? It requires finding the energy, focus and openness every day, so your actions inspire them to follow you and also be leaders themselves.
Another reason for being inspiring is that your team expect you to. According to Kouzes and Posner in their book The Leadership Challenge, employees have clear expectations of leaders. The top three are:
- Forward Thinking
It is hard to inspire unless people trust you, so honesty and integrity are vital components. It is about being authentic in everything you do. It is also about being clear where you are leading them to. Vision and values play a large part in inspiring your team to engage.
Engagement is the emotional and physiological attachment an individual feels toward an organisation; a critical factor in determining discretionary effort, loyalty, morale and ultimately performance.
How engaged are your team?
The scarcest resource is the full engagement of employee’s minds. People will be paying attention either to you or their fears. The stage isn’t big enough for both at once. Leaders need to pay attention to attention, because it is widely misunderstood and widely mismanaged. Attention is the major limiting factor for the success of business strategies, marketing campaigns and personal development. Inspiring people to hold their attention is therefore important to achieve business success.
David Rock states that people need to feel safe to have big thoughts. If you want to inspire your team to perform, think creatively and with initiative, then it is about creating an environment where they feel safe to do so.
Inspiring your customer to trust and purchase your product is also vital in maintaining a competitive edge.
Where do you get inspiration from?
We will all have different ways we are inspired. It varies at different times of our lives as well. It could be your religion, family, music, stories, acts of kindness, nature, sport, achievements, places or events. Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unexpected sources.
Do you know what inspires you?
I recently allowed myself to get so busy that I stopped doing many of the things that positively refreshed me. I found my energy and motivation insidiously slipped away. It took a wake up call from the results of the Judgement Index to get me back on track.
Are you doing enough to inspire yourself?
How well do you inspire people?
As already mentioned, people want integrity in a leader and being true to yourself will shine through.
Sally Hogshead, in a recent Toastmaster magazine article, talks about being fascinating to hold people’s attention. It is not really about being charismatic, but being more of who you are. This starts by seeing how the world sees you, not how you think you are perceived. True self awareness is another key leadership skill.
How well do you inspire your team and customers? How do you know?
How will you find your inspiration?
I strongly recommend you taking the time to consider:
- What it is that inspires you?
- Whether you are giving yourself enough time to be inspired?
- How well you inspire others?