Notable author William Arthur Ward once wrote: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The same applies for the leader. Keep in mind that all leadership actions previously mentioned are not mutually exclusive. Can the great leader inspire without telling, explaining or demonstrating? No. The great leader inspires in part, by employing a healthy balance of each communication approach. Anyone can be an inspirational leader, but only those who understand what truly gets people motivated and engaged will realize sustained success and positive momentum.
Employees should be inspired and motivated in order for departments or organizations to see true breakthroughs. Inspiration is infectious and those employees that are inspired will be more engaged, more productive, and will encourage those around them to strive for greater heights. When you begin to develop inspired, engaged, motivated and productive employees, you affect the culture and environment in a positive way. This positive effect creates the momentum that can propel your organization to the next level.
All of that sounds great, right? But what actually motivates people? The key is in the strengths and characteristics of the inspirational leader. Again, anyone can be an inspirational leader because everyone has the tools. However, the difference between the inspirational leader and a general person in leadership is the way in which those tools are utilized. Inspiring leaders use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold endeavors – and hold them accountable for results. These leaders are able to unlock higher performance through empowerment versus command and control. Characteristics or attributes that can aid in inspiration include: openness, unselfishness, accountability, vision, focus, and servanthood.
Lastly, the most inspirational leaders have an end goal or a destination for their inspiration. Leaders that inspire without a vision will end up with diminishing returns on their results as employee motivation begins to trail off. The inspirational leader has a clear plan for how their inspirational energy will be dispersed. How will your inspirational energy be dispersed? To develop human resources and talent? To create a more cohesive unit? To set the tone and standard of excellence? To spark the positive momentum needed to move the organization forward?
As you work to develop your style of inspirational leadership, consider these additional questions:
- In what ways do you inspire those on your team?
- Are you a catalyst for positive momentum?
- What characteristics or attributes do you utilize to inspire others?
- Do your key attributes and strengths create value for those around you and the organization