The ability to inspire others is a key leadership skill, and I am asked by many clients to coach them to be more inspiring. They think it is to do with being charismatic. I don't. I think inspiring leaders genuinely care about their people - they care enough to take the time to get to know and understand what each person is inspired by. If you want to be an inspiring leader, you need to care. It's just not negotiable. Different people are inspired by different things, and you can't take a one size fits all approach - and you definitely shouldn't assume that what inspires you will inspire them.
Empathy is Not Intuition
We often believe that empathy requires intuition - that you must put yourself in someone else's shoes in order to see things from their point of view. I think that requires you to be a mind reader. The easiest and most effective way to develop your ability to see things from another's viewpoint is to ASK them. If you want to know what matters to other people, just ask - and pay attention to the answers.
Authentic Conversations are Key
As you get to know the members of your team on an individual basis, you will have many conversations with them. It is in the context of these conversations that you will get to know what inspires each of them. Generally you will hear them talk about things that matter to them - personal or family goals that they often talk about. Do they talk about how important it is to them to send their children to good schools? Do they talk about the home they dream of building? Do they speak about a course of study that they are longing to follow? If they do talk about these things, listen and pay attention. Ask them questions to ascertain just how important they are and what else they are inspired by.
What about the Quiet People?
Some people are more inclined to keep these thoughts to themselves - for whatever reason. Perhaps they are just more private; perhaps they don't think anyone really cares; perhaps they just haven't allowed themselves to dream. Here is an opportunity to show an interest in them. Ask about what inspires them. Ask what they are trying to achieve in life. Ask who they admire and why - and see how that knowledge can be more inspiring. Perhaps by asking questions you help them to discover what inspires them - that's a real gift because now they can dream!
Everyone is Different
Sincere questions and non-judgement are important here. Everyone is different. You may be surprised what inspires others - especially if that doesn't inspire you! It is what it is for each different person - and differences are fine. What you want to know is what inspires them. It does not need to be what inspires you.
Stay Connected and Celebrate Success
This means you stay interested in their sources of inspiration. What progress are they making? What successes are they experiencing? And when they experience setbacks, help them to use these as learning opportunities so that they can keep moving forward. Most importantly, celebrate their successes and validate the progress that they make. This is far more valuable and inspiring than relying on your scintillating personality!
If you are a leader/manager and this topic is something you would like to develop in yourself, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's discuss your coaching programme.