In my last article, I explored the concept that great leaders ignite inspiration in others, and they do so by connecting them to a purpose. In emerging companies in fast paced ever changing industries, this quality is probably one of the most important qualities of leadership. And it’s a trait that leaders recognise and aspire to be. According to an IBM survey of 1,700 CEOs through 64 countries, the three leadership most important leadership traits were reported to be (i) the ability to focus intensely on customer needs, (ii) the ability to collaborate with colleagues and (iii) the ability to inspire.
And no wonder it is something leaders strive for. Inspired employees are more than twice as productive as satisfied employees and according to data gathered by Harvard Business school of more than 50,000 leaders, the ability to inspire others was the top core competencies and the attribute that employees look for when choosing a job.
4 Practical ways to lead in a way that inspires others
Apart from just being next level passionate about what you do and your organisation’s reason for being, here are some practical ways you can inspire others.
- Make your purpose and your vison crystal clear
In his TED talk, Simon Sinek uses the example of Apple. If they were average (which they aren’t) they could just say; “we make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” You say what you do, what you sell, you list the benefits of your product, and you expect to drive buying behaviour.
What they actually do say is totally different though, they seek to explain why they do what they do, to talk to people in a way that connects them to a higher purpose and drive buying behaviour. What they do communicate is this; “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” From the two examples, (although this is in a marketing sense), you can see the narrative change from simply saying what you do and sell to communicated the purpose of what you do. It’s a powerful way to drive behaviour and a fast trac way to spark inspiration within others.
- Communicate your purpose all the time
The spark of inspiration can be lit once but it needs to be continually tended to in order to keep it alive. Use work in progress meetings to remind everyone why they are doing what they are doing. Use language that reflects what it is you stay for. You need to weave it into the every day. In the early 2000’s Vodafone communicated often to their employees that they were ‘red, rock-solid and restless’ and everything they did needed to be red rock solid and restless, to spark a culture of inspired people, where they were curious and were true to the trailblazing company they were wanting to be. Each time something happened, or an idea came up, the question was asked – does it reflect our true purpose? If not, if it lacked that passion, forget it.
- Collaborate often
When you have inspired people, you need to keep them inspired. Talk to them often, ensure you have systems in place to get their feedback, gather their thoughts, give them enough space in their days to collectively and individually come up with new ideas, new ways of doing things.
Brainstorming and extracting new ideas is essential. It’s the whole point of keeping people inspired and engaged.
Have processes and meetings in place to allow this collaboration. Weekly WIPs and also strategy sessions, where everyone can be heard, no ideas are bad ideas, and everyone has creative input.
- Create time and space for people to be creative in their own time
Nothing kills creativity more than a diary that is chock-a-block full of meetings and deadlines. People need space and time to just think, to turn things over in their mind, to let their minds wander and let the thinking process play out in a way that isn’t stifled by the next looming meeting or deadline.
Encourage staff to book meetings with themselves to give themselves some space in their day. No one feels creative if they just go from day to day getting urgent work done. Businesses need to step away from the dated concept that if people aren’t ‘doing’ something all the time, they aren’t being productive.
In innovative businesses, people need time to do nothing. I these ‘nothing’ moments we come up with our best ideas. Think of when you come up with your best ideas. It’s usually not when you are super busy, but when you go for a walk, have a shower (so many great ideas come from people having a shower!), lying in bed at night, or just sitting in your chair at work enjoying some down time between projects.
How do you inspire your team? Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops in 2023? Please get in touch today . I’d love to help!