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?
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?