Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Why Inspiration Matters

February 20th, 2018

“We rise by lifting others” – Robert Ingersoll

In 2009 Simon Sinek gave a TED talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action that has now been viewed more than 37 million times making it the third most popular TED talk ever.  The premise of his talk was based on the fact that inspired workers make for both stronger companies and stronger economies; and when people become more inspired at work it creates a positive ripple effect on those around them.  The sheer volume of unique viewers would suggest that his message clearly resonated and that many of us are looking for inspiration in what we do and who we work for.

In a culture that often seems obsessed with measuring things, the power of inspiration is often overlooked. Yet inspiration is not only one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators, it is also a springboard for creativity, innovation and growth. Despite it’s elusive nature its influence is far reaching for individuals, teams and organisations and results in very tangible outcomes.

There are many reasons why it could be overlooked: for some, ‘being inspired’ smacks of day dreamy, passive behaviour that requires an almost divine presence before work can be commenced; whilst for others it is often confused with positivity or charisma. Whilst inspiration can result in greater positive outcomes, mindsets and behaviours it is something that is deeply based in trust and requires action to create. Unfortunately for many though their examples of leadership be-it within their political, community or business circles fail to inspire them or others to think and act differently.

Author John Maxwell writes that too often the ranks of leadership are inhabited by a host of mirages: people who look impressive from a distance but up close end up being disappointments leaving those who work for them dry and thirsty for opportunity and development. After being fooled by a few mirages, followers all too often become mistrusting and jaded.

In a world that all too often looks and sounds ‘beige’, inspirational leadership has never been more wanted and craved. It does however require today’s leader to stand out, speak up and take action often in scenarios when many others remain quiet or committed to doing things in the same old familiar ways. However when employees are genuinely inspired, their trust and confidence is not only restored (or established) but they want to do more, contribute more and be more.

So how do great leaders inspire action? I would encourage you to consider the following 6 attributes and consider how evident they are in your own leadership style:

  • Communicate the ‘Why’: When people understand ‘why’ they do what they do they are more engaged, productive, influential and innovative. Inspiring leaders know this and work to ensure that individuals are committed to understanding their personal why and the ‘why’ behind what is required from them in their role and organisation.
  • Magnify Strengths: Tom Rath & Barrie Conchie, authors of Strength Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow – conducted studies that revealed engagement increased eightfold when leaders focused on their employee’s strengths as well as their own increasing from 9% to 73%.
  • Pay Attention: To quote the old adage ‘people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care’. People who inspire know the ambitions, desires and motivations of those who work with them and how that impacts their engagement and productivity.
  • Be Available: Leaders who inspire, commit to investing time in those that they lead. This does not mean that they are available 24-7 but rather plan for ways to spend time that is purposeful, high impact and focused on developing individual contribution to support both personal and organizational success.
  • Empower Others: Inspirational leaders know who and how to trust others with what needs to be done. They provide opportunity; equip people with the right knowledge and tools; and work to remove the blockers that get in the way of success.
  • Challenge the Status Quo: Inspirational leaders are committed to creating excellence. They work hard to overcome apathy and look for new ways of thinking, doing and being that continually leverage opportunity, skillsets and mindsets.

Great leaders not only motivate, they inspire people to want to act. How are you inspiring action today?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot

Why Inspiration Matters

September 19th, 2016

In 2009 Simon Sinek gave a TED talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action that has now been viewed more than 28 million times making it the third most popular TED talk ever.  The premise of his talk was based on the fact that inspired workers make for both stronger companies and stronger economies; and when people become more inspired at work it creates a positive ripple effect on those around them.  The sheer volume of unique viewers would suggest that his message clearly resonated and that many of us are looking for inspiration in what we do and who we work for.

In a culture that often seems obsessed with measuring things, the power of inspiration is often overlooked. Yet inspiration is not only one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators, it is also a springboard for creativity, innovation and growth. Despite it’s elusive nature its influence is far reaching for individuals, teams and organisations and results in very tangible outcomes.

There are many reasons why it could be overlooked: for some, ‘being inspired’ smacks of day dreamy, passive behaviour that requires an almost divine presence before work can be commenced; whilst for others it is often confused with positivity or charisma. Whilst inspiration can result in greater positive outcomes, mindsets and behaviours it is something that is deeply based in trust and requires action to create. Unfortunately for many though their examples of leadership be-it within their political, community or business circles fail to inspire them or others to think and act differently.

Author John Maxwell writes that too often the ranks of leadership are inhabited by a host of mirages: people who look impressive from a distance but up close end up being disappointments leaving those who work for them dry and thirsty for opportunity and development. After being fooled by a few mirages, followers all too often become mistrusting and jaded.

In a world that all too often looks and sounds ‘beige’, inspirational leadership has never been more wanted and craved. It does however require today’s leader to stand out, speak up and take action often in scenarios when many others remain quiet or committed to doing things in the same old familiar ways. However when employees are genuinely inspired, their trust and confidence is not only restored (or established) but they want to do more, contribute more and be more.

So how do great leaders inspire action? I would encourage you to consider the following 6 attributes and consider how evident they are in your own leadership style:

  • Communicate the ‘Why’: When people understand ‘why’ they do what they do they are more engaged, productive, influential and innovative. Inspiring leaders know this and work to ensure that individuals are committed to understanding their personal why and the ‘why’ behind what is required from them in their role and organisation.
  • Magnify Strengths: Tom Rath & Barrie Conchie, authors of Strength Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow – conducted studies that revealed engagement increased eightfold when leaders focused on their employee’s strengths as well as their own increasing from 9% to 73%.
  • Pay Attention: To quote the old adage ‘people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care’. People who inspire know the ambitions, desires and motivations of those who work with them and how that impacts their engagement and productivity.
  • Be Available: Leaders who inspire, commit to investing time in those that they lead. This does not mean that they are available 24-7 but rather plan for ways to spend time that is purposeful, high impact and focused on developing individual contribution to support both personal and organizational success.
  • Empower Others: Inspirational leaders know who and how to trust others with what needs to be done. They provide opportunity; equip people with the right knowledge and tools; and work to remove the blockers that get in the way of success.
  • Challenge the Status Quo: Inspirational leaders are committed to creating excellence. They work hard to overcome apathy and look for new ways of thinking, doing and being that continually leverage opportunity, skillsets and mindsets.

Great leaders not only motivate, they inspire people to want to act. How are you inspiring action today?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

 

Whose Spotlight Are You Standing In?

September 14th, 2016

Last week I had the good fortune to attend a truly inspiring business forum about unleashing our potential. In amongst all of the learning there was one theme that seemed to underpin many of the speaker’s presentations – courage. Courage to not only step up to the challenge or think more creatively, but more critically to step out of the way of ourselves.

When facing big decisions, new challenges or a changed environment, the saying ‘we are our own worst enemies’ often rings true for many of us. At the heart of it is fear – fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of not being good enough. The expectations, limitations and fears that circle in our minds so often stop us maximizing not only our current opportunity but also our true capability.

Changing career paths, relocating countries and regions, taking on a bigger or more diverse role, proposing new ways of doing business, voicing an opinion that is not shared by the consensus all requires a high degree of internal strength, conviction and courage. For many of us it means shaking off the age-old thinking that the best way to succeed is to keep your head down, fly under the radar, play it safe and don’t make too much noise.

How ironic is it that what we want from our leaders is almost the exact opposite. We want and expect our leaders to stand up and voice opinions, propose new ideas, create new environments, demonstrate progression and generate high levels of engagement. We want them to stand behind what we believe to be the right decision and not just do things right. Courage is an inherent trait amongst great leaders and it is why we admire them so much.

The good news is that courage isn’t just available for a select few but for all of us. It isn’t a skill but a decision. It is the decision and ability to move ahead in the presence of fear and not as many say in the absence of fear.  It’s a mindset and it can be learnt.

So how do we overcome our fears and learn to live and lead with greater courage? In between many useful reminders, tips and strategies last week, there were a few that stood out that I believe we should strive to embrace:

Create an environment that supports courage and learning: If we think about a child learning to walk and the environment in which they learn to do this, they are invariably in a room full of people that are encouraging every effort made. Real dangers are removed and risks to ‘step out’ are encouraged. The adults and older children are cheering every step they take, not every time they fall over. They aren’t saying ‘well you’ve fallen over three times now, we better seek some professional help’.

Surround yourself with other courageous thinkers, doers and advocates: So often when we are driving significant change or introducing new concepts, the critics appear to have the loudest voices. Knowing who your key influencers and advocates are is critical to building effective frameworks of support. Your trusted advisors will be able to offer insight, constructive feedback and advice to help you not only maintain courage but also influence.

Gain some perspective: Ask yourself ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’ If it turns out that your idea / comment / view is rejected you will be remembered as someone who was at least prepared to offer a contribution. When we risk our own contribution for fear of not fitting in, it is often the disappointment in ourselves that remains long after the situation has ended.

Lose the perfectionist tag: Perfectionism is the equivalent of paralysis. It creates unwarranted stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately limits profitability. It often also prevents true connections with others around us being formed.

Be assured that the fire will come – Be ready for it: You can be guaranteed that when you attempt something new, there will be challenges and hurdles to overcome. When we know that they are part of the experience, they lose their power to hurt us personally, but instead become merely a part of the problem solving process.

Connect: No one can do it alone! Confidence is infectious. When you surround yourself with other like-minded and courageous individuals it not only helps you overcome your doubts and lingering fears but also helps you impart confidence to those that you are looking to influence.

It takes courage to challenge the norm, to make a tough decision, to answer the critics, to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves, to not allow failures and disappointments deter you from your course, to be vulnerable and allow others the space to also be vulnerable. It takes courage to lead both your teams and businesses through periods of great uncertainty and remain true to your path.

Leaders who consistently demonstrate courage will stand apart from the masses and earn the trust and loyalty of those that they lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

 

Why Generating Hope Matters

March 14th, 2016

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“A leader is a dealer in hope”
Napolean
Recently I was listening to a radio broadcast about the struggles many of our teachers and educators are currently facing. I was particularly interested in one head teacher’s story where she spoke about the challenges that she was navigating with her staff. As a newly appointed leader and working in what was regarded as an extremely impoverished and challenging school, the issues she was encountering bore a common thread: a distinct loss of hope that had permeated not only the children’s worlds but also that of their teachers.

As she noted, her challenge was to not only generate hope in her students but also in those who were responsible for their educational journey. She was acutely aware that if she didn’t start to make some significant changes in her staff’s attitudes and beliefs she would have very limited impact on the children in her school.

Unfortunately her story all too often reflects the challenges that many of our business leaders encounter today, particularly in the current climate where organisations face high levels of uncertainty and ever increasing demands to innovate and constantly do more with less. How do we generate hope in our business leaders and managers for the future? Failing to generate hope – or more bluntly abandoning hope – has dire consequences including at the very least a loss of morale, engagement and productivity.

Dr Lopez, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Business defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances. Hope therefore has the power to make bad times temporary. Without hope there is no belief, no direction, no goals, no motivation and no opportunity to create a better situation.  As Dr Lopez highlights, hope keeps us in the game. It keeps us interacting, focused and moving in a direction that makes sense for our own welfare, the welfare of others and the welfare of an organisation. His research suggests that employees with high levels of hope not only show up for work more but are 14% more productive. They are more creative at problem solving and more flexible, adaptable and resilient. They score higher in satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness.

Without hope we simply give up and ‘check out’ which is dangerous for us as leaders and the businesses we lead. It is important to note that hope is more than merely ‘wishing’ for a better situation. As leaders it requires us to inspire belief in others and to actively engage them in the future success of our organisations. In his book The Psychology of Hope: How You Can Get From Here To There, Rick Snyder suggests a practical framework that focuses on goal directed thinking and developing confidence and capacity to find pathways to achieve them. It is a discipline approach and one that can be learned. I would encourage you to consider some of the following strategies suggested to increase our abilities to be more hopeful:

  1. Set meaningful and realistic goals: To avoid generating ‘false hope’ we need to make sure that the goals we set hold real value and are clearly aligned / visible to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
  2. Set goals that excite & energize: Understand that goals built on intrinsic drivers are far more rewarding rather than ones ‘imposed’. By tapping into the motivators and drivers of our people we are more likely to generate an energy and momentum to drive outcomes.
  3. Develop a ‘pathways thinking’ mindset: Understanding that there are several paths that can lead to success is important to prevent us becoming focused on the blockages that will invariably arise. Recognize if new learning is required or who else can help with moving forward. Learning how to pivot and identify alternative options is cortical to building hope.
  4. Surround yourself with hopeful people: Hope is just as contagious as negativity. Check who (and what) you are listening to including what we are watching and reading.
  5. Practice ‘nexting’: This term created by Lopez describes the practice of discussing the NEXT thing you are looking forward to. By surrounding ourselves with other hopeful people and sharing our stories and why we are excited about it and how we are going to do it or overcome the challenges we continue to make deposits into our hope bank account.
  6. Be careful of the stories you tell yourself: As with so many things we try to do, all too often we are own worst enemy. Watch your self-talk to make sure that it is positive and reflects a succeeding mindset.

Inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. Not only does it serve a fundamental business purpose it also significantly impacts us personally by supporting growth and success regardless of our situation today.

As leaders today consider how you are helping your people to believe:

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it happen
  3. There is more than one path to achieving my goal
  4. No path is free of obstacles

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building hope in your career and for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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