Great Leadership Requires Inspiration, XVII

Demonstrate True Personal Commitment To InspireHow do you inspire people in your business, or in your organization? What does it take to be a truly inspirational leader? You have to start by being an inspired person, and then you have to have a superior awareness and sense of purpose. Beyond those prerequisites, though, there are probably as many ways to be a successful inspirational leader as there are leaders.Your personal brand of inspiration has to be genuine. That’s why I generally advise my leadership clients to start with a style of inspirational leadership that would work on themselves. What have leaders done to inspire you? Start with those things. It’s likely to be easier to inspire from a place of authenticity when you do.You can appreciate that there are other ways of inspiring people, other “brands” of inspirational leadership which are effective. Some inspire through bold, decisive action – people are inspired by the leadership they show when they “charge the hill.” Others have more of a “quiet sensation” brand – people admire their steadfast persistence and humble behind-the-scenes efforts. Still others might just behave like a spark-plug of positive energy, leading and inspiring with upbeat optimism and a can-do attitude. It’s great if you can develop more than one style of inspirational leadership so that you can readily adapt to the needs of your troops, but it’s critical never to stray from your authentic center.One very powerful brand of inspirational leadership is embodied in the leader who demonstrates unwavering personal commitment to her people. She might own a business, or have a leadership mission within an organization, but either way she inspires everyone around her by being a reliable and transparent ally. I’ve known such leaders, and one thing their brand brings is a certain harmony to the team. Everyone’s inspired, individually, but since the leader is on everyone’s side, the little squabbles that sometimes impede team performance are kept to a minimum – often, they don’t occur at all.It takes a caring, empathetic individual to pull off that brand of inspirational leadership – don’t try to develop that style unless it’s the natural event for you to do so. If you are a hard-charging leader suffering from what I call “EDS” (“Empathy Deficiency Syndrome”), it’s probably best that you hold off on the personal-commitment style and perhaps develop it as a secondary brand. Empathy is always good, and you can always find a sincere way to express it (especially with coaching). But making insincere efforts at being empathetic can not only fail to hit the mark, it can back-fire and damage a key relationship.If you’ve been inspired by empathetic, caring, personally-committed leaders, this might be the natural style for you as you journey toward being a more inspirational leader. Think about it. How can you show your personal commitment to the folks on your team? What decisions, actions, and words might you have left out in the hustle and bustle of getting the job done – and how might you refocus on those relationship-critical efforts?Do your people know you’re committed to their success (not just your own)? Are you sure?When it comes to true commitment, here’s my favorite analogy: consider a bacon-and-eggs breakfast. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.You don’t have to give your life, like the pig did for your breakfast, but you do have to have “skin in the game” in terms of commitment to the success of your people. And they have to know it.Be inspired, and then inspire others with what’s natural for you. If personal commitment is a style that comes naturally and authentically from your center, develop it – it’s a great way to build your inspirational leadership.