Are you able to inspire your managers on a frequent basis? Inspiration and acknowledgement both are necessary ingredients in change management but are often missing at work. You need to be inspired as a leader before you can inspire others.

Some leaders use inspirational talk in an attempt to coerce their managers to achieve, but they appear inauthentic because their actions don’t match up. A true leader’s words and actions are so contagious that they inspire others. They get people excited about coming to work, delivering on a project, or helping an enterprise reach its objectives.

I worked with a team of people in the consumer goods industry who were wrapping up an eight-month-long work session. One of the skill sets they committed to improving was being inspired. As they closed that project, I realized that many of the team members were not the same people I met at the beginning of the session.

As a leader, when you and I inspire the people we lead, we are breathing life into them.

Most of us aren’t born inspired. You have to commit to it, apply it, and practice it. One way is to identify someone who is inspiring to you. It could be a business leader, a leader in your family, a coworker, or a client. Learn everything you can about him or her.

Your managers watch your actions

When you’re excited and looking forward to something, it shows in your being and persona. It shows in your actions. Maybe you feel like you’re inspired, but you’re not getting the results you want. Seek out a mentor or try coaching.

In leadership development classes, we teach what we call the art of inspiration. It explores how we interact with others and makes leaders think about what inspires them.

This process involves an assignment where leaders must think about something in their lives that has inspired them. It can be a second-grade teacher, a movie they saw last week, a hobby, or music. The answer is whatever invigorates, enlivens, and revitalizes them.

The assignment is eye-opening. Some realize it’s been a long time since anything inspired them at all. Others feel uncomfortable sharing it with others, since we ask that they bring a representative item with them and speak about it for two to three minutes.

The inspiration-leadership connection

Every time I introduce the assignment, I think of a man at a pharmaceuticals plant who carried a small wooden box to the front of the room. The box contained gardening tools and a dirty pair of gloves. He spoke about how he loved to garden and unwind as soon as he got home from work. When he came into the house after tending to his vegetables and flowers, he could give his family his undivided attention.

He brought packets of seeds from his garden to share with everyone in the class.

People had no idea he had an interest in gardening or what a generous person he was.

The ability to talk to others and inspire them with what inspires you is priceless. Some people pick the most simplistic experiences, but they become profound moments because we find a new way to relate to each other.

What inspires you, and how will you make it contagious for your managers?

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