Before we unpack what inspiring leadership is, perhaps a good question to ask is why you should even bother? Why should you invest your time and constant effort to become an inspirational leader when you are already consumed by other responsibilities?
It is important to realise that you don’t just want your team members to hang their hearts, insights and creativity at the door like they might do with their coats. You want their discretionary effort i.e. that little bit extra that they will invest if they find fulfilment and recognition in how they contribute to the bigger picture.
If you experience this to be a daunting task, you are by far not the only one. Inspiring your team members requires constant focus and engagement that fits into the busy schedule of a leader with difficulty.
Perhaps the key lies in realising that this is not a bullet point on your task list, but rather a golden thread that runs through all you do.
It is essential to recognise that as much as you want your teams’ discretionary effort, you also need to give the required discretionary effort. This inspires and encourages all to follow. People respond to the way you show up and lead – not just to your words.
I would like to suggest three fundamental principles to become an inspirational leader.
1Establish purpose and take your team with you on the journey
I truly believe that having a clear purpose is a powerful driver to mobilise hands, minds and hearts in achieving sustainable results, whether you are working, leading, teaming, living, learning, etc.
To establish an environment that enables fulfilment in the workplace, team members must understand how their efforts contribute to the organisation’s goals. Without this, teams may not fully embrace why and what they are working toward.
2Free yourself from your ego
In her book, The Conscious Parent, Shefali Tsabary describes the symbiotic relationship between a child and a parent and how egos often get in the way.
This can also be applied to leaders and team members. We must strive to raise our awareness to such an extent that we can put our emotions in perspective and suspend our ego in order to be open to change and growth for both ourselves and our teams.
We must not only strive to influence our team members but also be open to be influenced by them.
3Communicate consistently and effectively
Because we talk every day, we feel we are communicating. The question is whether we are communicating effectively.
What is desperately needed is a call to action – we must start communicating with our teams constantly and consistently. We must listen to our teams, create a platform that fosters interactive communication and be authentic and present when engaging.
Remember, most team members don’t care what we say — what is really important is what we do. When we say something and do the opposite or just don’t do anything, we compromise our leadership because its shows no integrity. Our teams are always watching us and they are looking for consistency in what we say and do.
Inspiring your team requires a clear purpose – a purpose freed from your own ego and fluid enough to be embraced by your entire team. But all this will be in vain if you don’t communicate it effectively and authentically. These principles should not be seen as separate tasks, but as one complete approach that guides your leadership day after day.
Always remember that you are the message – what you say or don’t say, how you express it and how you show up.