by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Definition from Dictionary.com
in·spired [in-spahyuh rd] Show IPA, adjective
- aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence: an inspired poet.
- resulting from such inspiration: an inspired poem; an inspired plan.
- inhaled: inspired air.
Can you think of someone who has inspired you? Was it a teacher, parent, friend or leader in your organization or community? What were the qualities that this person demonstrated that connected you to them? Do you exhibit these qualities yourself?
When I deliver my sales or presentation skills programs, participants often tell me I am inspiring. I simply tell them I love what I do and love watching others grow and that inspires me. They in turn they get inspired as well. I think this is a critical component when inspiring others to action. When you are engaged in activities you love to do, you generate a more positive energy and people can connect to that. I think much like laughter is contagious so is inspiration. If you are a leader you want people to be inspired by your vision and connect to make the vision a reality.
At times when things don’t go as planned, others watch to see how you handle these challenges. You can inspire others by the integrity, attitude and actions you take in difficult times. It is easy to be inspiring and passionate when things are going well, it is when things derail is when leaders need to “walk the inspired talk” or “practice what you preach.” Inspired leadership means being willing to express your passion and excitement. We are naturally curious and when you share openly personal triumphs and challenges it engages people. Be curious about employee’s passions and what inspires them as well. Be open to provide them guidance. It is impossible to inspire others if you are not inspired yourself. It goes without saying inspired leadership requires consistent, positive attitudes and actions. When failures or setbacks occur, be prepared to review with an open mind and no judgement. People need to feel safe to step up and take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and inspired leaders create a space where employees can grow.
Here are five tips on how to inspire others:
- Be Compassionate – put others success ahead of your own. People feel inspired when they know you are pulling for them!
- Be the Change – others are truly inspired when they see a leader being vulnerable and asking for support. This will endear employees to a leader versus someone who sends the message that they have no weaknesses
- See the potential and believe in others: I love this quote by Mark Twain it pretty much sums it up perfectly “Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.”
- Accept others without wanting to fix them – this simply doesn’t work and it won’t inspire anyone. As a coach I have experienced many clients who want to “fix” one of their employees. It isn’t until they are able to accept the employee the way they are and the way they are not, that they can begin to inspire change and address their areas for growth.
- Just Be Great – a few years ago I create a very short exercise where I had participants create Just Be Great cards for themselves. They were to create an acronym that was personal to them using the letters GREAT. It was a huge hit.
The GREAT acronym I created for myself was:
G – gracious and grateful
R – respectful of others
E – engaged and empathic
A – acknowledge others freely
T – tenacious
When I am being all these things I know I am being great for others.
Take a minute now and create your own acronym for the word GREAT and the next time you have a challenging situation, use it and say to yourself “Just Be Great!”