I speak about inspiration a lot when it comes to leadership. Although it is a trait that is often associated with motivation, it is not the same. A lot of the time, people think that inspiring someone is motivating them to do something.
However, I do not believe that motivating an individual is a leader’s responsibility. Leaders must build an environment that ensures that the person can perform at their best. However, they do not need to be their motivational speaker when things are low.
Nevertheless, leaders need to do something more challenging. Motivation, for the most part, comes from within us. When we desire something, we often find the energy to achieve it. And when we lack motivation, the exact opposite happens.
Inspiration, on the other hand, is often outside of us. We hear an encouraging story or watch something on TV that causes us to want to do something.
Things that inspire us tend to be rare and hold a special place in our minds and hearts. The things we are inspired by often lead us to want to do more than just do something. They make us become something.
Leaders who inspire others are rare to come by. And I must say, there are many leaders I have had in my own life that have been great but have not inspired me.
Yet still, the leaders that have inspired me I have not forgotten. I try to model my leadership off of theirs and think about what they would do when faced with challenges.
All leaders should hope to create leaders that model their leadership. If not, they should probably be worried about their leadership style.
So, in this short article, I seek to highlight the one reason why many leaders fail to inspire anyone. And also, what you can do about it if you feel you lack this quality.
Do You Have a Message?
We often tell leaders that they need to have two things:
These things are essential for leading a set of people to a goal. Although the plan may not always work out, the mission should motivate people forward.
I have worked with many leaders who have had a compelling mission. And through thick and thin, their mission is what sustained the team’s progress. However, having these two things is not enough to inspire others.
A plan gives your team direction, and a mission gives your team vision. However, there is a third thing that leaders tend to overlook when leading their teams. And that is having a message.
For the most part, the goal and plan you set before your team is external. That means it is not linked to your identity as a leader or how you seek to influence your team.
A mission and plan can draw people to you, but a message can lead to their inspiration. Every strong leader has had a clear message that they sought to leave with their team. Every day they thought about that message and pursued to live that message out in their lives.
Every leader’s message is unique to them because it is linked to their identity and what they seek to see in the world. And having a message shows that you are more than just a planner or visionary.
A message brings individuality to your leadership. And that is why it is essential to have one. It gives your team insight into who you are but also what you wish to do.
Finding Your Message
Your message is unique to you and requires much thought. As highlighted, not only does it point to what you wish to see in the world, but it also points to who you are.
Your message should be clear and easy to remember. And your team should not need to hear you say it for them to know what your message is. As a leader, the message you seek to send to your team is personal but is lived out in your leadership every day.
So, here are three questions you should ask yourself to help you find your message.
What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?
There are many things we do in this world, but if you could only be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
For some, it would be that they were a good parent. For others, it may be the kindness they possessed.
We are all individuals and answer this question differently. However, it will certainly be part of your identity and will make up part of your message.
What Do You Hope for Your Team?
I find it scary that leaders do not hope for anything for their team members. They simply greet them once they come to work and have no dreams and ambitions for them.
Fair enough, you are not their parent. However, it is essential that you are involved in your teams’ development and should want them to be their best selves. After all, when they are their best selves they do their best work.
So, think about the overarching thing you want each individual to have once they have left your leadership.
What Inspires You?
A lot of the time, the things that inspire us often inspire others. Think about the things in your life that inspire you and how they have made you who you are today.
Forming and Living Your Message
Once you have thought about the three questions above carefully, you can form a message that encompasses all. Start the message with what you hope, then lead with what you seek to be remembered for.
A strong message may sound a bit like this:
“I hope my team can find meaning in their work and remember me for constantly pushing them towards their purpose.”
Once you have your message, you should live it. You do not need to say it to your team every day, but your team should be aware of your message.
By living your message out, your team will remember you for it. But they will also be inspired by your pursuit of it. So, find your message and live it out. It is this type of leadership that brings about better leaders.