When was the last time you felt truly inspired? I’ll bet for most of you, it’s been awhile.
Something like the feeling you had when seeing the ocean for the very first time – or a majestic mountain range – or listening to a speech from a truly great leader.
Now think; when was the last time a leader or colleague in your organization really inspired you to do something…or conversely – when was the last time you were able to inspire others? For most folks, it’s hard to think of recent on-the-job examples.
Merriam-Webster defines inspire – inspiring as: to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on
In its oldest form, inspire meant to literally breathe life into something or someone. Wow.
As a leader, the higher you rise on the org chart, the more you’ll need to inspire others. For example; you’ve just landed that senior management position (you know you want it) – and you’re tasked with turning around an under-performing team or division. What next? I can say with some assurance, that most under-performing teams lack good leadership. Assuming that people need to get pointed in the right direction (together, as a team) towards a clear, common goal – something might be needed to catalyze the motion. That something is inspiration.
But how can I hope to inspire others? Have a look at the following.
• Inspiring others requires something akin to a ‘vision’. Something larger than ourselves. We’re not talking about a run-of-the-mill two sentence vision statement on a lobby wall. We’re talking about something compelling, something pretty big, something in the future, and something that might change the world, improve your community and benefit your organization. In essence – something important. Not everyone can vision-cast and that’s just fine. If you can’t, find someone who can – and let them help you craft a vision – even, for example, if it’s just a vision of your CSR Team changing your company’s client experience – thereby potentially improving client retention, profitability, customer delight and stakeholder benefit. Look for someone who has big ideas and likes to start things. They can probably help.
• People have to connect to the vision. The best leaders and influencers of all kinds know that even a great vision is useless – unless stakeholders can relate and connect with it. So, make sure that people get it. Empathize. Imagine what your people need and give it to them.
• The vehicle for getting the Vision out there and connected with is communication. That’s means giving and receiving. Want to inspire people? You’d better be able to communicate with (that means listening, too!) and relate to people – effectively. Remember, communication is both style and content. It’s hard to inspire with a monotone, deadpan style. Be clear, be concise when you can, be informative, and be engaging – try to tell a story.
• Finally, it’s hard to inspire others, if you yourself – are not inspired. Think about it: how can I hope to inspire others and expect them to buy-in if I don’t believe it myself? Believe in your cause or vision as you seek to inspire others into it. People are smart – they smell insincerity a mile away.
Next time you’re faced with the seemingly daunting task of inspiring others, just think:
Vision – Connect – Communicate – Believe