Today’s workplace is complex and constantly changing. Demands on our time are higher than ever before and our attention is constantly being dragged in all sorts of directions. We all work flat out but never seem to get to the bottom of our to-do list.
Leaders are expected to do even more: to deliver their own work to a high standard plus inspire and lead their teams to deliver results.
In today’s workplace, leaders need to attract and keep hold of the attention of their followers, help them to focus on critical work and inspire them to go the extra mile. At the heart of this drive is inspirational leadership – an attribute that is critical to business success and, ultimately, business survival.
What is inspiration?
Inspiration is a highly personal motivation. We all seek meaning in life and we all identify with things that are closely aligned to our values and beliefs.
When we are aligned with the purpose and cause behind a request for us to do something, we become deeply connected on an emotional level to that cause. These emotions drive us to act in a positive way.
We should all reflect on our own personal source of inspiration. This is what gets us out of bed every day. This is what motivates us.
What is inspirational leadership?
An inspirational leader is someone who suspends their own ego and leads those around them to work towards collective goals or for the ‘greater good’ of an organisation. This is sometimes not an easy thing to do, but it is a values-driven behaviour that seeks to deliver business outcomes rather than achieve personal gain as a priority.
Inspirational leaders bring workplaces alive, set the climate for inspiration to flow and enable their followers to connect, thrive and innovate.
What do inspirational leaders do?
The best inspirational leaders create a climate based on trust and openness that is psychologically safe for their team members. Within such a climate people feel safe to speak up and leaders understand what empathic listening means. Ideas are heard and, through conversation, connections are made and new solutions to difficult problems are constructed.
Creativity flows, ideas are built on and collaborative working takes place.
How can you grow your inspirational leadership skills?
1. Find a role model: An excellent way to develop such skills is to find an inspirational role model. Who inspires you in your life? Is he/she a member of your family, a business leader, an actor or a famous hero?
Once you have found this role model spend some time studying him/her. How do they behave? What do they say or do to get action? When? What catches your attention about them as a role model?
Having answered these questions you can then begin to think about how you can emulate this. Have a go and reflect on the results you get. Slowly you will begin to broaden your inspirational skills portfolio.
2. Change your mindset: It is important to adopt a learning mindset when seeking to improve your inspirational leadership ability. Everyone can learn new skills, and if you have a learning mindset (i.e. one that says it is OK to fail) then you will learn faster because you will not be afraid to try.
Reflecting on and learning from our actions are critical life skills for anyone today.
3. Leadership development: If you are lucky enough to attend a leadership development programme you will start to learn many of the key skills that underpin and help you become more effective as a leader, such as listening, coaching, team building and problem solving.
A good programme should include inspirational speakers and master classes that expose you to the latest thinking on subjects such as neuroscience, emotion and mental toughness.
The importance of diversity and inclusion
Diversity is critical for true innovation and creativity.
Once you have created the climate for inspiration to flow, your next step is to fill it with a diverse community of collaborative people. If you seek to engender an inclusive workplace in which ideas are shared, people are connected and a coaching and learning mindset is promoted, then people will connect and collaborate.
If you encourage diversity you will recieve a greater range of creative solutions to your many work challenges. Add inspirational leadership to this and you will bring creativity to life. This in turn will generate true innovation and fuel a step change in your business.
To learn more about inspirational leadership read Lucy Finney’s whitepaper: Inspirational Leadership – Six must haves to develop inspirational talent within your organisation.