Out of the countless skills that a leader must have, one of the most important is the ability to inspire those around them. Inspiring others is not about ordering people around or delivering great speeches. Inspiration is about motivating others to be the best version of themselves. Somewhere along the way, leaders forget this important distinction.
The goal of this post is to provide an idea of what makes a leader inspiring and the benefits of this in the workplace.
Tips to Inspire Leadership
True inspiration starts with the people: the individuals responsible for making business possible. Build a culture of trust and ownership to train the next generation of leaders. As your team grows, you will find that newer team members will adopt those practices of serving others and taking accountability when necessary. A team of leaders can be more powerful than a single leader telling everyone what to do.
Acknowledge the efforts of your team. Employee recognition is crucial to a team’s morale and success. For small tasks, such as a quick turnaround on a task or help on a minor issue, a genuine compliment can go a long way. For bigger projects and wins, take the time to share that person’s success with the whole team. It will not only instill a sense of pride in the team member but encourage others around them to give their best.
Beyond recognition, make sure to let your team know that you value and respect their work. In return, your team members will view you in high regard. Show respect by actively listening to their ideas. Provide them with quality tools and resources as well to enhance their work life. Lastly, be supportive of your employees during their shortcomings and be constructive with criticism.
Benefits of Inspiring Others / Employees
Inspiring employees allows them to find a purpose at work, beyond the need for money. A group of researchers conducted a study and found that employee engagement is among the most important factors in the overall success of a company. As you continue to inspire and motivate employees, you will naturally find their engagement improves, resulting in greater productivity and morale. Organizations with high employee engagement have also been found to reduce employee turnover rates.
Inspiring others is a uniquely creative pursuit. When you inspire someone, you are subconsciously asking them to think about work and life outside of their usual perspective. This pushes them to take greater risks and try new ideas. It’s not uncommon for big companies to bring in motivational speakers or thought leaders to hold seminars— their words of wisdom could eventually lead to an employee of the company changing their way of thinking completely.
Ultimately, inspiring others can be a great source of happiness. In a report by the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that more than $500 billion is lost every year due to workplace stress. By inspiring team members to perform exceptionally or think unconventionally, they are able to break free from the usual limits and confines of work. In the long run, this can feel liberating and contribute to significantly reduced stress and pressure.
Characteristics of Inspirational Leadership
Trust is the foundation for any inspirational leader. Without trust, employees will lack the commitment to even the most simple tasks and will hesitate to step up when it matters most. Leaders build trust through their actions and words— showing respect for humanity and dignity in every employee, following through on his promises, and taking ownership for any team failures.
Leaders must also master the art of active listening. Listening to your employees allows you to create more personal connections and identify more pressing issues. You’ll be able to learn any struggles they are experiencing and potentially even solutions to help address them. Engaging in conversation with your employees, especially new hires, will help them feel included and valued within the team.
Inspirational leaders would place importance on each employee’s personal development. A positive leader will create opportunities for employees to shine. Trust your employees to do an exemplary job and be grateful for their work. By creating opportunities, employees are given a chance to prove their skills. They’ll be able to gauge their ability in a practical setting.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there on what makes a great leader. It’s easy to be influenced by what we see portrayed in the media as to what makes a great leader. Leaders are often viewed as hyper-intelligent, charismatic individuals who always make the right decision. That’s not always the case. Here are some myths about leadership:
– Leaders are born, not made – The qualities of what makes a great leader are not always inherent. Leadership is a skill, and like any other skill, can be learned over time. Oftentimes, exceptional leaders are a result of an existing problem. They take it upon themselves to find a solution.
– Knows Everything – You don’t have to know everything to become a great leader. In fact, leaders rely on trusted experts to provide information to help them make sound decisions.
– In it for the money – Ironically, a leader who is in it for the money tends to have a skewed mindset when it comes to decision making. Someone who prioritizes money above all else will stumble when the going gets tough. Greedy leaders end up failing to create something meaningful.
– “Always On” – Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be “On” at all times. Despite what others may think, great leaders are still human. Trying to be always on top of things will easily lead to burning out. Leaders recognize the value of taking a break every once in a while to unwind and reset.
Inspiring leaders can be found in the newest startups or in established enterprises. They can be found at the top, heading strategies and developing new initiatives, or they may be just another team member on the floor. The one thing these leaders have in common is their ability to see past their teams’ limits and rally everyone around a common vision. This means that anybody, even those from the most humble beginnings, has the opportunity to inspire those around them.