Inspirational Leadership – The 2 Main Steps to Take

Inspirational Leadership – The 2 Main Steps to Take
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Do You Have Enough Inspirational Leadership at Work?
Research by Bain and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that inspirational leadership at work is not the norm. Less than 50 percent of followers believe that their leaders are inspiring and motivating. Unfortunately, the research also found that even fewer leaders were perceived as consistently fostering high levels of employee engagement, modeling the desired company culture, and living the espoused corporate values.

What is Inspirational Leadership?
To inspire, according to the dictionary, means to affect or guide by divine influence; to stimulate to action, to draw forth, elicit, or arouse; to bring about. In its archaic form, inspire meant, “to breathe life into.” Truly inspirational leadership does seem to breathe life (e.g., engagement and results) into a project, a team, and an organization.

Both complacency and inspiration at work is infectious. Inspired employees do more and raise the bar for those around them. An old parable illustrates the point:

There were once two bricklayers, one of whom went about his work with competence but without enthusiasm, looking forward only to completing his work and going home to supper. The other bricklayer worked with delight and took pleasure in his achievements at the end of each day. When each was asked what he was doing, the first man said, “I am laying bricks.” The second man said, “I am building a cathedral.” In the parable, the second man greatly outproduced the first man.

Two Main Steps to Inspirational Leadership
Helping employees to connect their daily efforts to the strategic goals and vision of the organization is the foundational challenge of any leader looking to inspire higher levels of engagement and performance from their teams. Based upon data from our leadership simulation assessment, the most inspirational leaders:

  1. Actively Involve Stakeholders Early
    If you want to inspire others to greater heights, invest the time to actively involve team members in building the strategy as early in the process as possible. The old days of leaders dictating the strategy and expecting people to consistently and effectively execute it are over.

    Ensure enough strategic buy in from the people who need to implement to avoid delays, inconsistency, and failure.
  2. Create a Meaningful Connections to the Vision, Mission, and Values
    Effective corporate visions, company mission statements, and values provide the compelling purpose, direction, and cohesion required to collectively achieve goals, make decisions, and allocate resources. In fact, research by Grant, A. M. (2008). The significance of task significance in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that employees who feel more connected to the mission and helping others outperformed their peers by 131%.

    The most inspiring leaders engage their employees in the process of creating a shared path to success that captures their hearts and minds and connects them to those who they are helping most. They regularly revisit the vision, mission, and values to help ensure that there is a meaningful connection between their work and the accomplishment of the strategy by:
  • Learning what motivates each individual and how that motivational pattern relates to their work or role on a project.
  • Drawing out individuals to help them think through their own mission, vision, and values as related to the project or task.
  • Showing team members how the work they are doing connects to their own motivations, values, mission, and vision.
  • Helping team members to reconnect to the larger vision during difficult times or when the team seems discouraged or “deflated.”
  • Recognizing individual team members for contributions they are making to achieve the vision, especially if their contributions may not be obvious to others.

The Bottom Line
We often use the metaphor that a person with a large personality “sucks all the air out of the room.” An inspirational leader, by contrast, seems to bring fresh air into a room, enlarging the hopes, intentions, and expectations of all those whom he or she touches.

To learn more about being an inspirational leader, download The 4R Model of Transformational Leadership

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