Monday, May 16, 2011

BOOST O2 | BUSINESS | > 7 principles for inspiring employees

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by Terry Barber

If someone asked you for a good synonym for inspiration, what would you say? 
Some might answer that stimulation is a good substitute. 
Others might choose influence or encouragement. 
But by and large, when people think of inspiration, the word that immediately comes to mind is motivation.

Yet, are motivation and inspiration really the same and from a leadership standpoint, which is better? As leaders, we all want certain things from those who report to us. So do we motivate them to action, or do we inspire them?

Leaders genuinely inspire others by tapping into people’s dreams—then extracting the best from them. Here are seven principles for inspiring your employees that you can take action on today.

1. Authenticity— get out of the image management business for yourself and your company. Share with the people in your organisation where you are weak. Verbally express just how much you need them. Let them know that you know your limitations. Invite them to partner with you to get through these difficult times.
2. Connect with other's dreams— use these difficult times to uncover the latent dreams and ambitions of your key talent. Tell them you are more committed than ever to helping them get to where they want to go. Be creative in aligning their tasks for today with their dreams for tomorrow.
3. See in others the abilities they don't see in themselves— take time to be observant. Quit the craziness long enough to notice the talent in those around you. This even works if you are trying to manage up. This principle works best by breaking it down into three steps: notice, name and nurture. After you have noticed a talent or strength in a person, let them know you noticed it and be specific about what you noticed. Don't just say "I noticed you are a hard worker." Rather, "I notice you care very deeply about making sure the details are in order” or “I notice you are very articulate on that subject." Look for ways to bring that talent out by providing opportunities and training to support that particular talent.
4. Speak and live with credibility— I also refer to this principle as leading with moral authority. It does not mean much for you to say "let's keep looking for the opportunity ahead" while living in fear and operating with a scarcity mentality.
5. Inspire with great stories— this is the principle of overhearing. This is not to be confused with the art of storytelling. The emphasis here is looking and telling stories that have a lesson. What can you learn from the story of a mountain climber? What can you glean from the story of one who has gone from rags to riches or better yet, from riches to rags? Pull your team together today and use story to inspire.
6. Help people to live on purpose— remind them that what happens at work is only a portion of their life. As important as that portion is, it is not all that there is to life. Help people write down a vision statement for their life first and then for their job. If work can be a conduit towards that vision for life, great!
7. Create a culture of inspiration— following the example of John Wooden, UCLA's iconic coach, become teachers committed to excellence and character development. Chasing numbers and making decisions by looking only at the ‘bottom line’ causes us to be reactive and impulsive.
Focusing on raising the inspiration factor through developing people yields incredible value for stakeholders, customers and employees alike. Raising the inspiration factor one principle at a time will change the culture of your organisation.

Terry Barber is a speaker and corporate trainer and founder of Inspiration Blvd., LLC.
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