21 Jul Inspire Others to Inspire Others
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Leadership: A Definition
What is your definition of Leadership? Take a minute to write it down before reading further.
My definition is “a person who believes in what they do, demonstrates it daily, and inspires others into action.” I’m sure over the years my definition has become a culmination of what others have said, however the point here is I believe the definition speaks to why I continue to be inspired to lead. many people confuse ‘leadership’ with being a ‘people leader’ which may be the case, however ANYONE CAN BE A LEADER, if they want to be. I know I have not always been successful on my leadership journey. I also know I am committed to be better, which is why having leaders who inspire me, like Maya Angelou’s provides me with a guiding light on my leadership journey.
To get inspired I practice, I practice, I practice and I seek inspiration through reading, watching others, and by placing myself in uncomfortable situations. I am learning to get uncomfortable by being the stupidest person in the room. Your personal learning, and learning from others is an investment in your foundation for growth.
There are two videos I visit often because they continue to inspire me. The first is a Ted Talk, by Simon Sinek, How great leaders inspire action and the second is a video First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy, by Derek Sivers. Sinek explains ‘the secret’ to becoming a great leader and the science behind communication, decision-making and leadership. It is one example about ‘believing in what you do and why you do it’ is the same reason behind the Sivers video about why other people ‘do what they do and why they do it.’ These two videos simplistically explain human behavior and the key to leading.
Education: The Learning Process
I am a Bay Path University adjunct faculty member educating adult woman in a one-day accelerated format. The first Saturday class I ask all students “Why did you come to school?” The number one and consistent answer is “So I can quit my job!” I then ask a clarifying question, “What is your reason for quitting your current job or the company you work for?” Hands down, I hear ‘My boss is horrible, and he/she has been there for years. I have watched #XX people quit because of this person, and the company does nothing about it, so I guess I am quitting both the company and the job. I actually like my job, but I don’t see any future there, and I need a degree to move to another company.” As leaders wouldn’t we want to hear about this before they leave?
As an educator, both at the University and as the owner of Leading to Unlock, LLC I could teach others a textbook example and give examples of what a leader looks like, exemplifies, and should be. However, I believe, to be the most effective, I have to engage my students in the learning process. Meaning share leadership principles, share stories to help students understand ‘why’ gaining knowledge and outside perspectives is important, and inspire them to test and learn. My role as an educator and consultant is to inspire people to learn, expand their thinking outside of their comfort zone, encourage them to share their experiences, and to become confident and comfortable in their own skin. People, no matter their age, are seeking a new experience for themselves. There maybe external motivators, however if they don’t have the confidence and inspiration in themselves, for whatever reason, they need leaders to inspire them to help themselves.
Preparation: The ROI
As leaders we invest our time and energy into others, because we believe in the person’s potential. If we look at the ROI from a company perspective, companies send employees to courses, to school and for professional training. It has been my experience, most companies neglect to clearly outline the purpose and why the employee is going. As a people leader wouldn’t it be helpful to understand from the employee what is motivating them to attend the course? What value they feel the course will add to their daily work or personal development goals? What will they shareback with the team so the investment is multiplied?
I can tell you, if you invest in your education at Bay Path University, you will need to prepare yourself and your organization for educated, confident, and inspired employees to come back into your departments. As a leader there here are a couple preparatory questions to consider: a) Is your department and company culture preparing for your return on investment? b) What opportunities are available for this newly developed individual?b) Does YOUR leadership inspire action (retention vs. reaction)? d) Could you make a change in your leadership style to inspire action?
No this isn’t an infomercial for Bay Path University. As an alumna and an educator from this university, I was inspired by the freedom this education provides me. I know it was my motivation, energy and commitment which drove me to obtain my degrees. I also know I could have gone somewhere else, but what made me go to Bay Path University was a personal choice based on safety, security, speed, convenience, and the course selection for my future. People do what they do, because they believe in something which is personal. People want to feel better about themselves or they want to reach a goal they have set for themselves. Bay Path University happened to be the University I selected to give me freedom, give me choices and confidence in what I have to offer myself and others.
Make it personal. Leaders help people define what an investment in themselves will give them. It helps them define what is important to them. They might not know when they start, and they may need some help building their confidence but isn’t that what being a leader is all about. A leader invests in others because they want to, not because they have to.
My definition for KISS is Keep-it-Simply-Simple. Are you familiar with the words Thank You? Yes the two most underutilized words in the English vocabulary. People want to feel appreciated and to know why they are being asked to do something. They want to hear the words THANK YOU from their leaders. They want to hear from you because you care about them and their future well-being.
Keep it simply simple. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be authentic, be honest, and be open. Ignite the passion in others by investing time in getting to know what motivates them and what gets them excited about what they do, or want to do. It’s about taking the time to have a conversation and uncovering what they need from you to feel successful. You are not responsible for their happiness, they are. Leading open discussions, providing feedback and sharing experiences with each other keeps it simply simple.
Leader Change: Yes You!
To inspire action in others, you’ll have to change, yes you! It will require practice and it requires you to change the way you communicate to others. At first, it will be a bit structured, however after some practice it will become more natural. You can share with others, when you’re ready, “I am working on a development activity on inspirational leadership. Here are three new techniques I am going to be testing and I’d like your help and your feedback as I test and learn. Would you be willing to help?”
- The What and The Why: Spend time connecting the dots for your employees. Help them understand what needs to be accomplished and why it is important. Your staff, can figure out The How, after all you hired them for their expertise, let them demonstrate it to you.
- Operational Parameters: Think of the operational parameters as a way of working and a way of communicating so employees are clear about the expectations, outcomes, and support they will receive while performing their functions.
- The budget – Is there a budget? Who is responsible for it?
- The time frame – How long do we have to complete the project/task/initiative? What are the consequences of missing the deadline?
- The updates – What frequency do you want updates? What do you want to know when an update is provided?
- The resources – Who else is available to help with this initiative? What expertise can you provide me?
- The coaching – What is your availability to coach me? What help will you provide? Is there a mentor I can use?
- The success – What does success look like in their mind? What does success look like to you as the leader?
- Experiment-and-Learn: Provide an environment to experiment and learn will help your staff become fearless. Many employees come with baggage from historical treatment. Employees need a safe space to spread their wings, expand their knowledge, and experiment a little. As their leader, you need to create an environment of coaching, mentoring and leading.
Teach Them: Feed Them
People who openly share relevant information, help others to understand the purpose, and lead with compassion, honesty and authenticity will be leaders who inspire others. There is a phrase, I’m not sure where it originated a Chinese Proverb? The Bible? Who knows, but it sets the stage as you move forward on your leadership journey: “You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Leading selflessly helps others become leaders. Focus on being a leader who who inspires others to inspire others. As you learn to fish you’ll inspire others to learn too.