Don’t Just Motivate-Inspire

Leading a team can sometimes be overwhelming. We have days when we sense that leading by example just isn’t enough to spur excitement and action. We think we are providing our teams with a clear vision and specific objectives, yet we feel a lack of cohesiveness and joy. Something is missing. Productivity is not what it should be and innovation is waning. We begin to realize that leadership is about a belief in both our abilities and those of our team members. It can sometimes even be a leap of faith– having the confidence that a project or challenge can be achieved even without the perfect resources available. How do we motivate our troops to march forward with obstacles and roadblocks? We don’t. Instead we inspire!

 How do leaders inspire?

 How Do Leaders Inspire?

Build a team of trust: We know from Patrick Lencioni in his iconic book, The Five Dysfunctions of Teams, that the foundation for any team is trust. To inspire trust we ourselves must be trustworthy. Several years ago, when I headed up a team of outspoken leaders, I sensed a feeling of distrust. One of the other team members only supported her ideas, not trusting anyone else’s suggestions. I decided to take the time to learn about her dreams a little better. I began sharing with her more of my background and passions. By opening up and being vulnerable, I began to see her “tough guard” melt away. I could feel a level of trust building and it felt great. The rest of the team joined in and a rope began to connect each of us together. That rope of trust enabled us to accomplish great things.

Build a team of learners: With our fast paced work world, leaders who encourage a culture of continuous learning will have top-notch teams. Whether we learn from formal institutions or from more informal books or social media sources, we will create richer outcomes utilizing that new knowledge. Be an advocate of curiosity and exploration. Do it yourself! Make learning a priority and reward individuals who seek additional training or education. Establish a book club where the entire team reads the same leadership book. Create learning circles to research trailblazing topics.

Build a team of sharers:  The old adage that a team’s output is far greater than what the individuals can achieve alone still stands. 1+1=3 is a great way to think of sharing. Leaders can create a spirit of sharing by offering their insights and resources first. Demonstrate how to actively listen and practice listening to one another. There is no need for anyone to be in the dark about information flow so make sure everyone has access to the same materials. In addition, lead by sharing accomplishments and successes in and out of work. This open sharing can cultivate compassion and concern for each other. When people feel valued, they will contribute at higher and more meaningful levels, leading to greater innovation.

 Are you ready to be a leader who inspires? How have you inspired others?

8 thoughts on “Don’t Just Motivate-Inspire

  1. Terri, Great, practical ideas. It can be simple things that inspire. One year, we did the TOMS shoes Day Without Shoes. About 20 of us did not wear our shoes during the day. We all walked to work, getting some strange looks. It was a great way to break down some cross-functional barriers and do something for a cause, too. Thanks! Jon

  2. Another great post, Terri! Absolutely love the idea of creating learning circles. Learning is so essential to leadership and the learning circles empower everyone on the team to step up, motivate and inspire each other. Takes book clubs to another level!

  3. Jon, thanks so much for sharing your story about the TOMS shoes. That sounds like a fascinating way to connect with your co-workers while supporting a tremendous cause. You hit the nail on the head when you expressed that it is the simple gestures and acts that can really inspire us. Leaders must keep that in mind. Thanks again. Terri

  4. Thanks Alli for your enthusiastic support of lifelong learning! I honestly believe that leaders who stop growing because they think they know it all are missing out. If we can create exciting and flexible ways to learn from one another, as we do in tweetchats, organizations will definitely benefit. Thanks again.

  5. Thanks Terri for your advice and reasonating joy!

    I believe your advice applies to both personal and professional development and teams. Leadership doesn’t stop at the office door, doesn’t it?

    I believe what you are referring to is the need for a growing breed of leaders, more agile, capable of being open to change and being really vulnerable.

    I try to be such a change agent every day. In life and at work. I do not control what others think or say, but I do my best of setting an example.

    Always in a learning mode!

    Thanks for being there!


  6. I certainly agree with you Johann that being open, agile and vulnerable is applicable to our personal lives as well as within our professional worlds. After all, we are leaders in that realm also. Leadership is definitely evolving into being more self-aware and eager to serve others. As long as we keep learning and providing a culture of learning, our teams will flourish and we will continue to grow. Thanks again.

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