As I see it, to inspire means to move someone, to spark a willingness and a desire to act and contribute. An inspired employee, student or child will present their good works for you to see and be proud of. Disappointing you would crush them, while your honest praise would fill them with more inspiration-inspiration to do more, help more, Cooperate more.
I have been in the workforce since I was 14 years old- actually, 7 years old, if you count my grandmother Lilia's clothing store, where even at that young age I eagerly assisted (cleaning the windows, running the cash register and assuring the ladies how fabulous that dress looked on them!) My grandmother was a Cuban exile in Miami with hardly any formal education, no English and no social media-this was the 80's. Yet she always had a steady and very loyal clientele, ran three successful businesses by the time she passed, had the biggest, most generous heart of anyone I have ever met and always-always inspired cooperation when she needed it.
So, I had a lot of first-hand experience with great business leadership from early childhood. I also had a heaping share of Terrible Bosses. I spent over 30 years studying what makes a great leader over the mediocre, wishy-washy and dreaded Terrible Bosses, carefully studied the trainers, supervisors, HR directors and Managers, all along making observations about what motivated people into action and what undermined and caused derision in teams. As a new manager, I made my own terrible rookie mistakes, learned from them, and eventually led teams to achieving seemingly impossible goals. Some of the people that once reported to me are now, years later, great personal friends and loyal colleagues.
I also studied the statistics.
The Big But
Yes-Some terrible bosses do get impressive statistics by force---for a while---BUT-
The Big But-
It is NOT sustainable.
Eventually, either the team under duress falls apart, great talent quits, the truth emerges that the statistics were false all along, or the very closest people under them conspire and invoke their demise. You can only berate people for so long before they turn on you.
So What Makes A Leader Inspiring?
Is it being an expert in the thing you are managing?
Is it charisma and charm?
That can help, but only takes you so far.
Of course a great leader should actively and continuously study all about their field and strive to be an expert in the general area-knowledge gives you credibility, reliability and influence. However, tantamount to being able to spew out technical facts and details is the ability of a leader to penetrate the social barriers that arise in people who have been long-time victims of bad management- some who are uncertain of their abilities because they have been beaten down, some who are slow to trust because they expect you NOT to "have their backs", and even the small percent (and yes, I do believe it is a very small, but dangerously contagious percent) of people who are actively trying to undermine the whole operation- The Negative Nancies (these you just need to nip in the bud as quickly as possible.)
Here is the key- Can you Connect, Relate and Push a common vision?
A Smart Leader Quickly:
a- Identifies each individual's personality style (there are many tools to help with this like DISC),
b- Assesses which approach will work best with each individual, and
c- Then begins chipping away at each individual wall, eventually penetrating and inspiring best performance.
This is just the entry point-of course there is more to it like proving that you are willing to do the work in the trenches yourself, setting clear expectations, timely follow-through and Always delivering what you promise-ALWAYS.
People being completely willing to engage, perform and even go to war for you, if the need arises.
The Flip Side
A team that will work incessantly to undermine and undertake you, or at best do the minimum required work and no more.
Why should you care about the morale of the team? You are NOT here to make friends; you are here to Get S--- Done!
Well, How do you want it done? Do you want to be Right or be Effective? Do you want minimum output or maximum?
The ROI of an inspired team?
1- An inspired team performs at its highest output potential.
2- An inspired team exceeds goals and makes the Whole shine (AKA-Making You Look Good.)
3-An inspired team works well together-minimum Drama. (How much do you Love Drama?)
4- (And Most Important) LOYALTY-An inspired team will go to war for you because it has learned to trust and follow you, Believing by Seeing that you always have their best interest at heart-something they may not even believe of their own parents (let's face it, some parents are pretty crappy.)
If you inspire them to be their best, to be proactive, to own up to their mistakes and quickly fix them, to truly take pride in what they do so that the group's accomplishments are their individual's accomplishments too, BOOM! There you have it- the ROI-
Maximum Output for Maximum Growth.
Isn't that what you are going for?
(Learn how to quickly assess personality styles and how to best engage them, how to rally a team around a common goal or project, how to handle the destructive "Negative Nancies" and ultimately how to lead by inspiring loyalty and maximum contribution.)
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