Leaders Inspire

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

— Warren Bennis

I believe this is another fundamental of leadership.  Inspiration is huge.  A leader can have the best, well thought out plan focused completely around the vision and the best staff in the world and can still have everything fall short or come to a grinding halt.  How can this be?  If a leader cannot inspire the people they work with to do a monumental task placed before them, the people will simply not be motivated to do it.

In the past, I worked for someone who had some pretty amazing visions.  They had no lack of creativity of what could be, and I am envious of that ability.  However, none of these visions came to fruition because of their inability to inspire those around them.  They could not make their vision everyone else’s.  When one fails to inspire someone to stir intrinsically, they attempt to use extrinsic motivators.  Threats, incentives, and reprimands are some common choices here.

So, say you have a big project coming up that you feel is going to change the course of the company.  How do you inspire the people you work with to undertake this project with you while you maintain the vision you set before them?  Obviously, you know how important this project is in your mind.  Does anyone else?  Clearly, this vision is incredible and is deserving of incredible effort in your mind.  Does anyone else think that?

The answer I’m alluding to is really simple.  You allow people to invest and put their voice into the project.  You help make it their project, their vision.  But in order to do this, you have to check your ego at the door and allow your vision to undergo the scrutiny of other people.  Your (brain)child is on the table being picked apart by the experts you hired, and you need to be okay with that in order for your dreams to become a reality and engaging the people you work with simultaneously.  I make this sound painful, and I imagine it may be.  However, a secure leader is confident enough in their position to allow their idea to be improved upon by the people they hired in order to get the work done.  There may be times you need to use the “authority card” to keep the vision on track, but in order to stay on the correct side between inspirational visionary and dictator, these should be used sparingly.

As people contribute to your idea and make it a reality, the more invested they become into the project.  It’s not a silly thing to them.  It’s not just another project that the boss told them to do without any kind of buy in.  People who are invested, those who bought in, those are the inspired people.

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