Explore what inspires you as a leader
Can you think of any moments recently when you felt your spirits soar? Mine include the surge of love and joy I experienced alongside my wife on the day of our daughter’s graduation. Another was an acute sense of excitement as I spent two hours tracking a leopard with my camera and a few friends on the plains of the Masai Mara.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of these invigorating moments at work too. The pride in seeing one of my younger colleagues deliver an outstanding client presentation. Or the sense of purpose and rapport I felt as I began exploring how I could best support someone I was working with in a new leadership coaching relationship.
These wonderful moments of inspiration are so important to us all as human beings. They energize us and charge us with a sense of excitement about life and all it has to offer. But given their power, it fascinates me that we know so little about how to access them. Are all forms of inspiration the same? Do they just happen by chance? Is there anything we can do to experience them more often and more intensely as our lives unfold?
The need for leadership inspiration
These questions are particularly important for people who take on the responsibility of being leaders. We are living in a tumultuous world – economic volatility, digital disruption, Islamic terrorism, cybercrime, Trump, Brexit… the pace and scale of change is extraordinary. The resulting challenges facing leaders at all levels in today’s commercial organisations are unprecedented. The demand for outstanding financial results grows ever more intense, as do the expectations for people to be authentic, ethical and engaging in their leadership style and behaviour.
There is an urgent need for talented individuals to step up and provide inspiring leadership for their teams and organisations. But for them to do so, it is critical that they are able to find first the inspiration they need for themselves. Only then will they have the drive and resilience to handle all the responsibility, pressure and scrutiny that being a leader often entails.
It was for this reason that I set out on a research project two years ago to explore how people discover, experience and maintain their inspiration as leaders. My initial focus was on people in senior corporate leadership positions. However, I was so intrigued by the findings that I extended my interviews to include a much wider variety of leaders, young as well as experienced, and in spheres such as sport, the arts, education, religion and the armed forces.
The findings to date are captured in my new book, The Inspired Leader, which is published this week. It brings together a rich collection of stories, insights and ideas with a thought-provoking set of personal reflective exercises.
The path to inspiration
At the heart of my conclusions is an exciting realisation that whilst we cannot choose when we feel inspired, neither do we have to leave it to chance. There are some simple ways in which we can increase the likelihood of inspiration visiting us from time to time and of it driving us forward over the course of our lives.
We can seek out stimulating new experiences of the world, particularly ones we know might trigger a lift in our spirits. We can also seek to reflect more internally, attempting to better understand and articulate our motivations and the passions that make us feel most alive.
Perhaps most significantly, we can bring an engaging mindset that leaves us open, receptive and ready to be inspired. By choosing to be positive about life, to embrace possibilities and to look for learning, we can create the fertile conditions in our minds that will make our experience of inspiration both more frequent and more energising as our lives unfold.
Inspired leaders feel exhilarated by getting deeply involved in work they are passionate about. They embrace exciting challenges that enable them to apply and grow their distinctive personal talents. They derive a greater sense of meaning in their lives by finding ways to uphold the values they care about and believe in.
The ultimate result is that being an inspired leader provides each of us with opportunities to make the very most of ourselves, and thereby to maximize the positive impact we have on the people and the world around us.
So why not explore what inspires you as a leader? How much do you know about what lifts your own spirit and motivation? And how can you bring the benefits of inspiration more proactively to your own life, as well as to the lives of the people you are leading?
Brand Learning works with marketing and sales leaders and their leadership teams in well-known international companies. To find out more about how we can help you and your teams, take a look at our website and please get in touch.
To learn more about The Inspired Leader, here is a short introductory film.