Inspiration not optional

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March 5, 2010
Inspire – “Maya Angelou once said, ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.’ I think this is a great template for a leader…I think a leader is one who nurtures and encourages and inspires an employee to not only do what he/she is supposed to do but to feel better about themselves as a person and feel better about themselves as an employee.”

I came across this while reading a blog post on The Hiring Site  called "How Do You Identify a Leader?".  I will not rehash the top 10 list that this post provides, but rather, would like to focus on #5: Inspire.  Careerbuilder asked for input from their audience of headhunters, staffing companies and their recruiting audience focused on hiring trends and the search for the best talent.

It seems like every day there is a new and fancy way to be a great leader and I can tell you that as a long time veteran in the Indianapolis staffing industry, I have been fortunate to hold a number of leadership positions and the one thing that has been consistent, has been that providing inspiration to those you lead is crucial and that never, ever changes. Now working at That’s Good HR, a locally owned and operated Indianapolis staffing company, I have learned that regardless the size of your company, the need for inspirational leadership is always critical to running a successful business.

To "inspire" is one of those objective terms that holds it’s meaning in the eyes of the beholder, but lucky for us, it is not complicated.  Zig Ziglar once said

"You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life". 

This is what it means to inspire.  Always looking for opportunities to challenge your best people and when things are at their darkest, pointing them in the direction of the light. 

I am not talking just about having the desire to inspire or the great ideas with which to inspire, but to actually be able to effectively communicate and transfer that inspiration to those around you.  John Maxwell wrote a book called "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader" and while the word "inspire" does not make the list, all the ways one inspires do make the list – the most important being "communication".  One of the quotes in his book states that:

"Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership.  The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others.  If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter."

Don’t even think about trying to inspire sporadically either, as that simply breeds mistrust.  The worst thing you can do is to pretend you are going to inspire, set people up to be inspired and then let them down by not showing up to the party.  There is no such thing as being sort of committed to something.  That is like being sort of pregnant.  Once you commit, you owe it to those following you to show them the way each and every day, not only when you feel like it – (that would be the definition of the opposite of inspire…not sure what that word is, but I am sure I can come up with a few).