As leaders, we all aim to inspire our people to do their best work every day, but the reality is what constitutes as ‘inspirational’ can often be a bit of a grey area, which is why a lot of leaders unintentionally miss the mark.
So, what does it actually mean to be inspirational? And how can we, in turn, inspire others?
In this article, we’ve broken down what it means to be an inspiring leader into 5 key attributes so that you can weave into how you act towards your people:
One of the key qualities of an outstanding leader is being able to create outstanding relationships built on a foundation of trust. These relationships will have a flow-on effect on all areas of the business, allowing you to increase employee engagement and satisfaction, as well as helping you drive outcomes company-wide. In order to build strong, trust-based relationships, you need to be able to suspend this judgement. Think of every day as a fresh start, see the potential in every person you work with and catch people doing the right thing.
The first thing to take off your ‘to do’ list as a leader? Seeking recognition. The most inspiring and impactful leaders are humble and care far more about making their team ‘look good’, than ‘looking good’ themselves.
The quickest way to make your team feel undervalued as a leader is taking recognition for what they consider ‘their work’. So take the time to recognise people for the contributions they make – big or small – and where possible link this back to the company vision.
The greatest leaders are comfortable with showing vulnerability, accepting feedback and admitting them when they were ‘wrong’ or perhaps didn’t make the best call. This lack of arrogance has a flow-on effect to the team, creating a culture where people are comfortable with failure and learn from their mistakes.
The easiest way to show vulnerability as a leader is my seeking feedback. By doing so you’re essentially acknowledging that you’re not perfect, and you don’t expect others to be either. Role modelling this behaviour to your team will make it easier for others to recognise opportunities to change and grow.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Passion is infectious”, and this is particularly true when it comes to leadership.
If you want your team to care and get excited about the work they are doing, you need to demonstrate this behaviour yourself first. One technique inspirational leaders use to share their passion for the company’s vision and values is through storytelling. Stories will allow your people to see and imagine what it means when they’re bringing your values to life and the kinds of behaviours that amplify your culture. Read more on how to do this here.
When we believe in ourselves, each other and what we are trying to achieve we can achieve just about anything. Think back to a situation where you were perhaps doubtful of your abilities to take on a certain responsibility at work, but you had a mentor or leader who believed in you? You can be that person for your team.
We show our belief in our team when we give them autonomy and ownership over certain projects, without feeling the need to constantly micro-manage them. Equally important though, this does not mean you should give your people free rein entirely. As leaders, we get what we inspect, not what we expect. Maintaining a schedule of routine check-ins will hold your team accountable, as well as giving them time to seek guidance and feedback.