Inspiring others is in our DNA
According to the Macmillan Dictionary the word “inspire” means “to give someone the enthusiasm to do or create something”. A lovely idea and one the business world has recently incorporated into their DNA. So much so, we are now relentlessly inspiring teams and employees to success. Building inspirational brands, creating inspirational ad campaigns, inspiring customers and clients. Being inspirational to the general public, and alongside inspiring, we are also motivating (inspiration’s close cousin)
Consequently, the word “inspire” and its derivatives, stand a really good chance of becoming this season’s business buzzword. Along with Sustainability, Transparency, Guru, Content and Big Data.
Inspiration and motivation
Inspiring and motivating anyone is a bit of a hit and miss since ironically. It is when we are not trying to inspire that we seem to be at our most inspirational. Further, while you may inspire one person in a group, the rest are quite likely to be indifferent. Then there are those who market themselves as inspirational and motivational speakers. We all know that there is nothing worse than sitting through one of those presentations when the speaker is anything but inspiring.
For many of us the term “Inspiration and Motivation” has positive connotations. But what about when inspiring others have negative implications? A case in point is the story of “The Wolf of Wall Street”. While there is no denying that the Wolf of Wall Street (an appalling and unscrupulous individual) is a good example of someone who did inspire and motivate his employees to go way beyond what they thought they were capable of. Their actions hurt innocent people. Remember his speeches to the traders? Where he walks around, screaming motivationally and with great passion (passion being the key word here) into a microphone until the traders are incited into a sales feeding frenzy. Perhaps then, the deliberate premeditated inspiration and motivation, practised by the Jordan Belforts of this world is really manipulation masked in charismatic rhetoric.
Aspiring to Inspire
Scenario 1: A new company director takes the helm. The corporate vision and goal are to turn around the company whose sales are flatlining. Morale is low and key employees are dusting off their CVs.
Scenario 2: A company gets a big project and the team leader is saddled with challenging deadlines, taxing milestones and a very reluctant team that needs to step up and make the project a success.
Two different scenarios but one common element: both aspire to inspire and motivate the employees/ team to execute the vision in order to achieve success.
As company directors, managers, business owners and team leaders, we have a vision of what we want, we know what we need to achieve success, and we are perfectly capable of setting the goals and targets. In executing the Vision, we are required to be inspiring and motivational – this is the bit that tends to keep us up at night – in order to make it (the Vision) a reality.
So what gets in the way of being inspiring?
Simply, it’s ‘the gap’. This gap is created through disconnected communication and unsubstantiated rhetoric with the people who surround you, affecting your relationship with them and the way you interact with them all of which will keep you stuck in the gap, or at best spinning your wheels. The end result is frustration and exasperation within the group, guaranteeing that the vision/project/task has little chance of being executed successfully, if at all. Employing “do what I say not what I do” tactics, bullying, intimidating, terrorising and threatening will definitely inspire those around you to “jump ship”.
Closing this gap has nothing to do with the skills and experience you and your team bring to the table. Rather it is building gratifying and rewarding relationships which result in success on all levels of the business and projects.
Walking the talk
So how do you rally people, engage them in your vision, inspire and motivate them so that they become “the innovative, enthusiastic, roll your sleeves up, hit the ground running, dream team” you need to help you execute the vision/project/goals/tasks?
First of all, do not set out to be inspirational; it often comes across insincere and most people will see you simply you as pretentious, arrogant as well as overbearing.
Here’s how to walk the talk. In no particular order, it’s all about:
- Being ethical
- Being committed to your core values and integrating them into your everyday business interactions
- Working with people who share your values
- Creating an environment where people feel valued and happy.
- Creating and delivering value (and not only financial value) to all stakeholders (internal and external) including your partners, customers, team, and employees that you interact with
- Being fully engaged in delivering the businesses’ values and promises
- Being accountable and accepting responsibility for the consequences of your actions every minute of every day, in all areas of your business and your lives.
- Showing compassion and empathy to others
- Keeping all the promises you make
- Taking responsibility when things go wrong
- Not blaming anyone or anything
- Being positive
- Having the confidence in yourself and your choices
- Being self-aware, and acting with integrity and respect
Yes, we can all aspire to inspire; however, it does not exist in rhetoric but in the conviction of action and outcome of the effort. Ultimately, setting an example for others to follow is what being inspiring and motivating is all about.