For years, leaders have asked me how to motivate people. Regardless of whether you’re talking about large teams or small teams, sales teams or project teams, the answer is the same. You can’t motivate people.
Motivation comes from within and people are either self-motivated or they’re not. It’s one of the main reasons that only a handful of people respond to sales promotions or contests. Only the people who are driven by money will respond, while the rest won’t.
The most effective means of spurring people on to better performance and greater results is by inspiring them. In contrast to motivation, which comes from within, inspiration comes from others. The dictionary defines inspire as “To exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon, or to arouse with a particular emotion.”
We – as leaders – inspire people by who we are, by what we do, or by what we did.
Why strive to be more inspiring? Here are some notable benefits of being an inspirational leader:
- It elicits an emotional response
- It creates the desire to accomplish or achieve something
- It sparks the imagination as to what is possible
- It creates belief
- It creates enthusiasm
- It creates hope
- It creates admiration
- It creates respect
- It causes people to want to emulate us
When people are inspired, they aspire to reach new heights/goals and resolve to overcome obstacles, challenges and fears. They begin to dream bigger and regain hope that they can achieve those dreams. And when people are inspired by you, they make an effort to emulate you, they strive to be respected by you, and they become willing to align themselves with your passion, vision, or cause.
As you can see, the impact of being inspiring is significant. Of course, the big question is how to become inspiring. What transforms a leader into an inspirational leader? Here are five strategies for becoming a more inspiring leader:
- Never miss the opportunity to share what you’re passionate about. People are attracted to and respond to leaders who are passionate about something. When a leader is passionate, people will follow then and be inspired by them.
- Use stories to make your point and paint a picture. People relate to stories and analogies, and when told effectively, will evoke an emotional response. Stories can be very inspiring.
- Share past challenges that you’ve overcome. It doesn’t have to be a major life altering challenge; it can be any kind of physical, mental or emotional challenge you overcame which made a difference in your life. People are inspired by those who overcame adversity.
- Set an example of high integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do. Show up on time. Return phone calls and emails. Finish projects on time or ahead of time. And don’t be afraid to let people know when you’ve gone out of your way to do what you said you would do. People are inspired by leaders who earn their trust and respect through their actions.
- Let others know what matters to you. Become clear on the values that matter most to you. Reflect throughout the day as to whether your actions are in alignment with those values you say matter. Leaders who live their values inspire people. (Conversely, saying one thing but doing another is not very inspiring.)
If you want to move your team into high gear, forget about trying to motivate them and instead, focus on becoming an inspiring leader.