You may know that contemporary leadership theory compels leaders to be inspiring. Theory tells us that inspiring leaders get amazing performance from the people they lead. Unfortunately, behind all the rhetoric there is little support or clear strategies for leaders to be inspiring. Unless of course, you are born with charismatic powers and unique persuasive charm. If you were born with these great gifts, no need to read on.
Many leaders we speak with would love to inspire the people they lead but find the downward spiral of the ‘busyness’ vortex sucks them into the operational abyss. Leaders ask us, ‘What are sure-fire ways to inspire others?’ It’s not possible to give a ‘one size fits all’ response but it requires some pondering. If Simon Senek could distil it down to the ‘why’ – there must be an answer! So here are our 6 ingredients to inspiring others …
Three ingredients for you …
1. Connect with people
Simply put, leading to inspire others starts and ends with how leaders connect with people. Leaders need to get out and talk with people – hear their ideas, understand their needs, and obtain their feedback. At the same time leaders need to show others who they are, and what they stand for. Do people know your passion? Using visual language and sharing stories are wonderful ways for us to connect with others.
2. Do the unexpected
We know Albert Einstein’s description of stupidity – same thing, different results. Our brain craves novelty and is energised by it. When leaders do something out of the norm, people respond. Obviously it has to be in context, but they take notice! Not only do people feel energised, they develop a sense that leaders will support the unconventional and things ‘out of left field.’ This encourages people to explore and test new things themselves.
3. Look for the spark
We could be forgiven for thinking that leaders need to be the spark and that people are flammable material waiting to be ignited in to action. There are many leadership devotees that espouse this! Nothing could be further from the truth … to inspire someone we need to help others identify the ‘spark’ within themselves and discover ways to help it catch fire. Leaders must find, and fan, the spark in others so they can ignite it themselves.
Three ingredients for others …
4. Shift people out of their comfort zones
There is no doubt we love our comfort zones, and when things get tough, it’s the first place we retreat. It’s safe in there! However, people who continually choose ‘safe’ options slowly lose their momentum and motivation. Leaders have to show tough empathy to move people out of their comfort zones. Encouraging people to ‘test’ discomfort can result in an inspired shift.
5. Enable people to overcome obstacles
A great way to build self-confidence is for people to see others confronting, and overcoming obstacles. We are wired to say, ‘if they can do it so can I!’ Leading to inspire is about people taking action. Leaders need to ensure that when people are ready to act they are not stonewalled by difficulties and obstacles. We need to know people’s strengths and enable them to draw on their strengths in difficult times.
6. Distil their vision
People who have potential, but no vision, will never achieve their best, because they don’t know what to aim for. Inspiring leadership guides people towards their potential, their vision. When things get tough, a clear personal vision ensures that we will not retreat to our comfort zone or give up at the next obstacle. Leaders often see things in others, that they can’t see themselves. Helping people connect to their vision, and then distil it, is critical to inspiring others.