"Coaching isn't a great mystery. It's just hard work, determination, and inspiration at the right moment." --Bob Zuppke in The Book of Football Wisdom edited by Criswell Freeman, 1996.
"Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow." --Vince Lombbardi
What makes a leader inspirational? The ability to inspire people to reach great heights of performance and success is a skill that leaders need. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational. The ability to communicate that passion, purpose and meaning to others helps establish the inspirational culture of your organization. These points will tell you how to enable inspiration and motivation in the people you lead.
How Leaders Instill Inspiration in the People They Lead
- The inspirational leader feels passionately about the vision and mission of the organization. He or she is also able to share that passion in a way that enables others to feel passionate, too. The nature of the vision and mission is critical for enabling others to feel as if their work has purpose and meaning beyond the tasks they perform each day. Sometimes leaders have to help their staff connect the dots by explaining this big picture to all. Communicating the big picture regularly will help reinforce the reason your organization exists.
- The inspirational leader listens to the people in her organization. Talking to people about your passion is not enough. To share meaning - my definition for communication - you must allow the ideas and thoughts of your staff to help form the vision and mission, or minimally, the goals and action plan. No one is ever one hundred percent supportive of a direction they had no part in formulating. People need to see their ideas incorporated or understand why they were not.
- To experience inspiration, people also need to feel included. Inclusion goes beyond the listening and feedback; for real inclusion, people need to feel intimately connected to the actions and process that are leading to the accomplishment of the goals or the decision.
At a client company, we cancelled an annual employee event because of customer orders for product. Many people did not like the decision, but we involved the whole management group, the Activity Committee members and many other employees in the discussion about whether to cancel or re-schedule the event. The inclusion led to a compromise that, while not perfect, still enables a celebration and a positive motivation boost, yet allows the company to meet customer needs.
- Important to inspiration is the integrity of the person leading. Yes, vision and passion are important, but employees must trust you to feel inspired. They must believe in you. Your person is as important as the direction you provide. Employees look up to a person who tells the truth, tries to do the right things, lives a "good" life and does their best. Trust me. Your actions play out on the stage of your organization. And, your staff does boo and cheer and vote with their feet and their actions.
- Finally, an inspirational leader gives people what they want within his capabilities. (You cant provide a raise in pay without company profitability, as an example, but you absolutely must share the rewards if the organization is doing well.) The inspirational leader also understands that, while money is a motivator, so are praise, recognition, rewards, a thank you and noticing an individuals contribution to a successful endeavor.
Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style
Much is written about what makes successful leaders. I will focus on the characteristics, traits and actions that, I believe, are key in this series of articles.
- Choose to lead.
- Be the person others choose to follow.
- Provide vision for the future.
- Provide inspiration. ((Current article - you are here.)
- Make other people feel important and appreciated.
- Live your values. Behave ethically.
- Set the pace through your expectations and example.
- Establish an environment of continuous improvement.
- Provide opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
- Care and act with compassion.