Much is made these days about inspirational leadership. The ability to tap into another’s inner fire and stoke it into performance greatness, all without lifting a finger to force or coerce.
This is the sought-after people magic that countless leadership books and classes try to analyze and teach to help leaders become more organically influential, rather than mechanically directive as many average companies fall into.
The tricky thing is that inspiration is relative.
Two people can witness the exact same thing and experience it in a totally different way. One feels inspired, the other feels nothing.
A recent study shows that leaders struggle to inspire – only 27% of employees say their leaders are inspiring, while 74% of leaders think they’re inspiring their teams.
So what moves us?
People are inspired by what they’re already looking for.
If you’re hungry for money, you’ll be inspired by strategies that lead to financial success.
If you’re hungry to make a difference, you’ll be inspired by a vision and goals that do good and benefit others.
If you’re hungry for attention, you’ll be inspired by chances to do significant work and lead from the front.
What inspires us depends on what we hunger for.
How can you inspire your people if you don’t really know what they’re looking for?
What matters most to them about their career?
What things need to be present in their work for them to feel inspired about their job?
What about the organization, and who within the company, inspires them the most?
What sort of work gets them most fired up, and conversely what kills their flame?
Where would they rate their inspiration level today and how can you help with that? (don’t worry, there will be some things on their list you actually can do something about)
Ask real questions if you want a real relationship.
A relationship where you get a chance to inspire them.
Where you can fan a greater fire within them, without the need to force or coerce, or mechanically “influence”.
To unlock this inspiration puzzle that leads to performance magic (and contagiously happy people) you’ve got to put in the curiosity time to find out what your people are looking for in life.
To see them three dimensionally rather than the one dimensional job they represent.
Otherwise you’re leading by assumption and fakery and your people will go through the motions because you are.
Find out the “what” that makes them show up and push every day. You’ll inspire yourself in the process. And who doesn’t want a happier boss in their life?
While 74% of leaders think they’re inspiring their teams, only 27% of employees agree
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