When it comes to being an inspiring leader there are really only 2 things that we need to do.
- Create an inspiring vision
- Create belief that the vision can be achieved
When we create an inspiring vision we create the desire in our teams, or within ourselves, to achieve the dream. It becomes something that we want to do. If the vision or goal doesn’t catch our imagination, then why would we make any effort to achieve it, there isn’t any real reason or personal satisfaction in achieving it, and consequently we probably wouldn’t even try to achieve.
When we create belief, we show our teams what is possible and that they are capable of achieving the goal or vision. When we have desire and belief then we have ignited the passion within our teams and they become inspired.
They now believe that they can achieve what they desire to do, and this will definitely get them to start the journey. In my experience people are not afraid of hard work, especially if they believe it will result in success, this is why belief is so important. It’s when our teams lack belief that they choose not to put in the extra effort as they just see it as a waste of time.
When it comes to creating inspiring visions there are three key components that we need to focus on, and the more we can include these, the more inspiring the vision will be. Our visions need to include big bold goals, they need to be aspirational or they need to have a sense of purpose.
Big bold goals inspire people because of their sense of achievement; no one is inspired by small goals, and the bigger the goal, the more the sense of achievement. My favorite big bold goal inspired an entire generation, this was set when JFK stated in 1961 that they would send a man to the moon and back safely by the end of the decade. This goal was so big and bold it even survived his death and was ultimately achieved in 1969 just before the end of the decade.
Aspirational goals are aligned with our personal desires, our personal needs. Often people tell me that this is difficult to achieve as most peoples dreams, if you ask them are: to be heavy weight boxing champion of the world; to be a rock star; a movie star or some other such dream. Now whilst its true that we can align with this, we can align with a much more basic need. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, everyone has the need to be respected, to feel that they have achieved something. So in order to play on this basic need, when we set our goals, we need to show how our teams will be recognized for achieving this goal and what their contribution to it will be. When we do that we make it personal to them.
Sense of Purpose is achieved when our goals have a higher level importance, which may be relevant to us or to others, and we need to share this with our teams, because if they know why something is important then it will increase their desire to do it. When I decided to run my first marathon, I didn’t do it because I wanted to run a marathon; I did it because I wanted to raise money for cancer charity to help my friends who were suffering. It was this sense of purpose that got me out of bed on those cold, wet mornings to train, not just a desire to run a marathon.
The more we can include these components, the more inspirational our visions will become and greater the desire will be in our team to achieve them.
It’s desire that makes us want to achieve the vision, but it’s belief that makes us try to achieve it. If we don’t believe we can be successful then we are doomed to fail right from the start, if in fact we do even start.
There are three components to creating belief that we need to work on in order to increase the belief within our team that will get them to try: and these are successful examples, a simple plan and then early successes.
Successful examples give us confidence that what we are trying has been done before, or that people have achieved similar feats, and this is only a small improvement that we need to attain in order to be successful. When you look at the mile record, for men, it wasn’t until 1953 that anyone ran the distance in under 4 minutes, and within months the record had been broken again. Since then over 1500 people have beaten that mark. But it required the first person to do it, to show that it was possible in order for others to have the belief that they too could do it. When I ran my marathon what gave me the belief that I could do it was Farujah Singh who had completed the marathon at the age of 100. If he could do it then surely I could do it, as I was younger, fitter and healthier than him.
A simple plan is very powerful in creating belief, because although we know other people have done this before, when we have a simple plan we now know how we are going to do it. We must not confuse simple with easy, my marathon training plan was simple, easy to understand but it still required me to run 1000 miles in training, which is definitely not easy. The plan was very simple and straight forward; it required me to run 5 times a week, starting with 15 minute runs in week one and increasing my Sunday run by 5-10 minutes each week. I knew I could definitely run for 15 minutes and I believed that if I did that 5 times a week I would be able to increase the Sunday run, and over those weeks it would increase from 15 to 20, then 30 minutes and onwards until after 24 weeks I would be able to run for over 4 hours. I knew I couldn’t run for 4 hours today, but I new that if I followed this plan I would probably be able to achieve it. So now I had belief, and it was this belief that got me to start the journey, even though I knew it would be hard work.
Early successes are critical; because when we start the journey we have a belief that we will be successful, and any early success will reinforce that belief. So when we create our plan we need to include small successes early into the plan, building into bigger successes as we journey towards the final goal. So for me, when I did my marathon training, each of the longer runs on a Sunday were those small successes for me. When I could see that I could run for 20, 30, 40, 50 and then 60 minutes during the first 6 weeks I could see that the plan was working, I could see the progress I was making, so I believed the plan would work, and this inspired me to keep going.
If you want to be an Inspiring Leader it really is this simple, all we need to do is create desire and belief.
When we do that the team will want to achieve the goal, they will know how they will achieve the goal and they will have belief, and this is a heady mix that will ignite their passion and enthusiasm. The only thing that will be left for us to do will be to cheer them along the journey towards success.
About the Author
Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Gordon Tredgold earned a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics at Manchester University and worked in IT for over 20 years. Tredgold is a specialist in Transformational Leadership, Operational Performance Improvement, Organizational Development, Creating Business Value, and Program and Change Management. He has Global and International experience gained from time living and working in the UK, Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic, USA, and now Germany.
Tredgold’s highly effective leadership experience has been collected, throughout the years, from his activity and participation in sports, leading significant transformational changes, and managing global operations. He operates a Leadership Principles blog (www.leadership-principles.com), which was rated the #6 ‘Most Shared Leadership Blog in 2013’, ‘Top 50 to watch in 2013′ by Evan Carmichael and ‘Top 30 Hidden Gem Leadership Blogs’ by the (CMOE) Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness.