The secret to inspiring others is to know the people whom you are inspiring. People react more positively when they know that leaders understand their personalities, values, aptitudes, and skill sets. Leadership happens in moments. It’s often the small, seemingly inconsequential occurrences that can positively inspire others.
In today’s workplace, there is no magic bullet a leader can use to provide inspiration. Drs. Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman are principals of the leadership development company, Zenger Folkman. In their book, The Inspiring Leader, the authors show that there are different approaches leaders can deploy to inspire others, aside from the leader’s charisma. They demonstrate that the ability to inspire others is a behavioral skill. Anyone with a desire and willingness to practice can be highly competent at this skill and generate substantial impact in the workplace.
Through their research, they identified six consistent approaches individuals use to inspire others. It is a common practice for leaders to rely on one or two of the six most often. Here are the six inspiration techniques as defined by the authors.
- Visionary—provide a clear picture of the future and communicate a compelling vision embraced by the team.
- Enhancing—create positive one-on-one relationships along with team relationships to set a collective goal.
- Driver—display a focused pursuit, or stretch goal, to make the numbers, complete things on time and generally be accountable for personal and group performance.
- Principled—provide an ethical role model of doing the right things in the right way.
- Enthusiast—exude passion and energy about the organization, its goals and the work itself.
- Expert—provide a strong technical direction that comes from deep expertise.
It is encouraging for leaders to realize that they have a variety of opportunities to inspire others at work. Inspiring others is not limited to cheerleading. Inspiring others should, however, move the followers to embrace an inner desire to act. Depending on the situation, leaders can employ these different approaches.
Zenger/Folkman found that leaders can inspire their teams by setting stretch goals; establishing professional development opportunities and collaborating on innovative ideas. The ability to infuse energy, passion, commitment, and connection with an organization’s vision is vital for growth.