7 Easy Inspirational Leadership Acts

Key Point:  It doesn't take a lot of effort to inspire people

Here are 7 easy, yet inspirational leadership acts that will help you connect with your people and boost morale in the workplace. Better yet, these actions will take little time away from all the other pressing matters you are faced with each day.

Tip 1: Take time to 'break bread' with your team.

The company's cafeteria/lunch room is the place to learn about the tempo of any organization ... it is generally far more accurate than anything you might read in a formal Mood/Culture Survey.

inspirational leadership - socialize

If you are a manager who is introverted ... or who in the past has not mixed and mingled with front line team members, on a personal or professional level ... this may, initially, be a bit difficult and uncomfortable, (for both you and them), as you don't yet have any camaraderie or rapport.

Expect them to be guarded, and for the conversation to be stilted, until such time as you have built some trust.

However, if you take the time to regularly eat or have coffee where your team does (it needn't be every single day - just a few times a week), after a while people will begin to be more open and trusting toward you.

In the early stages avoid any conversations that have to do with work - particularly if you have never previously established an easy, open relationship. Your initial objective is to just to start building relationships and trust.

As people become used to you being around eventually they will open up. Discussions will turn towards issues that are hindering their performance. They will begin to see that you are a 'good guy' and trust you enough to begin to 'beef' about what isn't working. When this happens make sure you practice fully Tip 6 below.

You must resist with all your might the temptation to justify, explain, make excuses for any inadequacies that (from their perspective) have been caused 'by management').

Your prime aim with Easy Leadership Act 1 is to get a feel for the mood of the organization, and ideas for how you can continuously improve morale - not to spread the management 'line', or shut down conversations that are difficult.

You must resist with all your might the temptation to justify, explain, make excuses for any inadequacies

What you want to do, is to just acknowledge (you don't have to agree or disagree, just acknowledge) their concerns and steer the conversation toward ideas they have for fixing the 'problem'. Let them know that you are interested, and keen to get their perspective. However, don't make any promises that you can't keep. (This might be a good time to practice the Moment of Choice

This can be a tricky path to weave, you need to be loyal to your leadership team and systems, AND make it easy for people to share with you ideas and thoughts that might help improve the way things get done ... so choose your words wisely as you engage in the conversation.

For decades, it has been well known that the people closest to the problem have the solution. So it is in your (and your organization's) best interest to listen carefully to the ideas people have for fixing the problems within their workplace.

If you cannot use any of their suggestions, you may say something along the lines of, "While I can't promise that I'll be able to act immediately on your suggestions, I've now got it in my mind and it will certainly help me to make better decisions in the future"

Asking the people, who work in the front-line, what they'd do differently and then acting on as many of the solutions as you can, will truly sky rocket your team's performance.

As time goes by, and you work with these people to implement their ideas, (and not making promises you can't keep or constantly defending your position) trust will grow. As trust grows so does their level of optimism and that leads to performance improvement. It's a true cycle of success.

This is one of those inspirational leadership activities that is often overlooked, but so easy to implement.

Be a leader whom front line team members feel free to confide in by spending time regularly with them in 'their world' - whether it is the lunchroom or their work area.

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act:  Spend time socially with your team - morning tea, lunch, coffee. Do it in 'their space' not yours.

Tip 2 - Issue everyone with a business card

An incredibly inexpensive and astoundingly powerful practice is to provide each team member with a Business Card. Receiving their very own personal business card (with their name on it - not just a generic card) can be particularly meaningful for team members who have never been in a job 'senior' enough (i.e enough status) to justify/qualify for their own business card.

team member business card

Whilst I was working with Colgate-Palmolive, we saw to it that all the team members in the factory were issued personalized business cards. It is really difficult to express the sense of pride many team members felt when they received their first set of business cards.

They would give out their cards wherever needed with customers and suppliers and they would also distribute them within their personal circles.

I recall one of our team members, doing his weekly shopping in a supermarket, giving his business card to a customer. This customer was comparing various detergent powder brands and looked to be about to purchase a competitor's product. The team member gave out his card and urged the customer ...

"Buy Cold Power". I'm one of the team members who makes it. I'm sure you'll love it. And, if you don't here's my card, call me and I'll personally make sure you get your money back. 

This impressed the customer so much, that she called up to inform us that she will always buy only Colgate products from now on. She went on to add that if the team members are so proud of the product, then it must be worth using.

It's a really nice touch if you can have a person's business card ready for them on their first day of work with you. 

You not only send a message that s/he is wanted in the company, you also send a message about the hopes and expectations you have for them.

When people feel important they will promote your business. And proudly so! And that is very, very powerful.  

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act: Give everyone in your team business card

Tip 3: Be Yourself!

Many people know more about their favorite sports team or t.v character than they do about themselves.

Knowing and being comfortable to allow the true you (the person that silently sits behind the mask you wear to work most days), to show up is one of the easiest and yet most challenging of leadership activities.

Many leaders fall prey to acting out only those qualities which they think are needed for success. However, research has, time and again, shown that there is no one single set of characteristics, traits or talents that guarantee success.

The Chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, (Kelleher has been voted best CEO by Forbes, and Southwest is consistently voted as the most desired company to work for), follows a practice which he calls "Be Yourself". He attributes this simple way of being, as one of the keys to his and Southwest's success. 

Being Yourself is all about Authenticity and Integrity - which go far beyond just telling the truth. They originate deep within you. The greatest, most inspirational leaders, are those men and women who have a strong foundation, upon which they have a clear sense of their values and standards and live them fully.

Avoid trying to be something or someone you are not so that you can get ahead in life.

When you aren't being true to yourself people pick up on the vibe that something isn't quite right with you. 

When you are "Being You" people are more likely to extend their trust to you

For example, there are possibly people in your workplace that you don't fully trust or believe in ... for some reason that you just can't put your finger on. That finger of doubt that you feel, may cause you to be less receptive to their requests, than you might be toward someone you have great faith and trust in.

Often that feeling of, 'there's something not quite right about him/her' is you picking up that the person isn't being true to him or herself. And, if they can't be true to them self, how on earth are you going to trust them to be true to you?

Feel this is an area you need to do some work? The following resources will be useful:

Both of these resources could be useful kicking off points for getting clearer about your values and what you stand for as an individual and a leader. Get that clarity and your life will feel vastly different ... better!

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act:  "Be Yourself". In the long-run it will pay dividends far beyond what you can imagine.

Tip 4: Show your appreciation

Most people say they don't need to be appreciated, but surveys show they sure do like it! It seems, from data gathered in survey after survey, that people do not feel their immediate leader adequately appreciates them.

To facilitate high performance levels from the people in your team, promote yourself to the rank of 'CEO of the Heart'.

To get the high performance results all organizations are after, people need to be committed with not just their heads and their hands, but most importantly with their hearts. When people are connected with their hearts to the goals of the organization, then you get inspired performance.

One simple way of connecting people's hearts is to show appreciation for their efforts.

It seems saying 'thanks' is becoming a lost skill in our world of busy schedules and rush.

When was the last time you received a hand written note from someone (and email doesn't count - real pen, real paper) letting you know that you are doing the right thing and that you are appreciated?

When was the last time you sent a hand-written note to someone letting him or her know you appreciate their efforts (even when that person isn't your best performer)? Don't overlook the power of showing appreciation for effort. You may be delighted by a boost in performance from someone who hasn't been a great contributor.

A wonderful thing about acknowledgment and appreciation is it sets off the 'feel good' endorphins in a person's body (those feelings many people try to get through alcohol or exercise ~ LOL). That good feeling is something everyone wants to have repeated. Therefore, when you regularly use the inspirational leadership tool of appreciation, you are more likely to encourage continuing good performance.

Here are some sample appreciation letters you can use with your team members

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act: Acknowledge people's performance and let them know what you appreciate about their positive impact in your world.

Tip 5: Focus on what 'challenging' people get right - more than focusing on their faults

If you can look at it from a different perspective, you may be able to see how people, who challenge you, are in fact offering you a wonderful opportunity to discover more about yourself, and push you to thinking and behaving in new and different (and often in better) ways.

People who defy and do not comply, who are under-performers and who rub you the wrong way certainly capture your attention ... and it can be attention that you begrudge.  

Obviously, in any group or team there will be at least one or two people whom you find a bit challenging. And, I fully empathize with you just how difficult it can be to provide inspirational leadership to people who just rub you the wrong way. But there are things you can do to minimize their painful impact...

One of the principles of the Law Of Attraction is that whatever you place your focus upon you will draw more of it to you.

So, if you are focused on someone being a 'pain in the neck' then that person will show up for you with those behaviors on a regular and consistent basis.

Use the solutions focused coaching model to help you build upon what people are getting right

I can almost guarantee that that person who drives you nuts, is liked by others. 

So your easy leadership act here, is give more of your attention to what a challenging person gets right, than focusing upon what they do that makes your life difficult. 

Write out how you would like your relationship to be with this person.

You will be amazed, but over time if you really do practice looking for the good - eventually the person's behavior does change. I have witnessed it so many times, I hope you trust me on this one and do practice it. The results won't be immediate but, like building a muscle in the gym, practiced with regularity you will see different results.

The solutions focused coaching model actually provide skills in building upon where people are performing, so we can maximize that performance

Take a quick peek inside a coaching session I had with a client about taking responsibility for how you react to others. And if you'd like to check out some research that backs up this principle of what you focus upon you get more of, access the One-on-One Meeting training where we discuss the impact of the Pygmalion Leadership principle on performance. 

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act:  Focus on people's positive aspects, and work to draw more of those from them. Don't not address their problems - you must address under-performance. But keep your attention more on what they get right than wrong. 

Tip 6: You influence better when you speak less

You will make a marked impression on others and more readily influence them when you are known as a person who takes the time to understand other people's point of view. 

For most leaders, when someone comes complaining to them about things that are wrong with the company, the team, their job, decisions they have made, their instinctive response is to justify, defend or explain their position.

practice shush

However, if you can learn to stop this knee-jerk reaction and listen fully to other people's viewpoint ... your ability to connect and influence others will sky-rocket. 

Unless people feel that their feelings and interpretation of events, has been heard and understood, they aren't ready (or willing) to listen to anything you might have to say.

When you practice the skill of 'shush', you are making the choice to listen, and seek to understand the other person's viewpoint, BEFORE you start trying to drive home your own point of view, or make the other person understand your side of the story.

Practice the skill of 'shush' for the next few weeks. When someone is talking to you about something ... and you feel yourself wanting to jump all over them to correct their, (from your perspective), flawed viewpoint ... catch yourself and practice the skill of 'shush'.  

Don't offer up your opinions, until you have understood the other person's point of view, and most importantly, until you are satisfied that they believe you understand where they are coming from.

Your objective is to strengthen your relationships, by being known as a Leader who is open-minded and good at listening. Don't confuse that with necessarily agreeing with everything they say. Access the Successful Feedback program to discover how to listen well, and then offer another perspective without annoying the other person.

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act: Listen to understand before talking to be understood! 

Tip 7: Know your people individually and take time to care

If you don't know your people as individuals; their strengths, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, desires, challenges, learning styles and hot buttons, you will find it difficult to engage and energize them.

Who do you work with that seems to truly care for others? You know, the person in your team who knows the names of the partners and children of the people they work with?

Who is the person that seems to know when someone is feeling less than his or her best?

This isn't a person who is a snoop. It is a person who has taken the time to connect with other people and show that they care about what is going on in their colleague's world ... beyond the workplace.

How much do you know about the people you work closely with?

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    Do you know their challenges (both personally and professionally)?
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    Do you know who has a sick child/relative?
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    Do you know where they want to go on their next holiday ... their favorite sport/hobby/pastime?
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    Do you know any of their life goals/dreams?
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    Do you know what their strengths are? And, if they report to you, have you made it possible for them to make regular use of their strengths throughout their work day?
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    Do you know what frustrates them most about working for you and your organization?

It is the ultimate form of caring, if you take the time to make notes that remind you of the conversations you have with people, and what you would like to follow up with. 

With so many things on your mind, you can't be relied upon to remember everything that the myriad of people you interact with every day tell you.

This isn't manipulative it is simply using a tool to help you remind yourself to be a human being rather than a human doing. 

Owing to the busy nature of everyone's schedule and getting caught up in your own priorities there is always a high possibility that you can forget to care for others, (or for some it isn't a skill that comes naturally). So make use of a tool like your diary/scheduler to help you to remember to take the time to care. For example, in your diary you might have notes like:

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    Ask Jim how his brother is doing since the surgery
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    Ask Mary how she is going with deciding about her next career move
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    Speak to Sue about how she is doing with her scrapbooking
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    Find out how Bob is doing with his singing lessons

Making notes in your diary helps remind you that life is about connecting with others and caring about the people you interact with daily.

Your Easy Inspirational Leadership Act: Make it a habit to connect, daily, on a personal level with team members as you go about your normal business. When you do this you drive home the point that you care for them and their success is your success.

Bonus Tip: Take time to be with yourself!

Spending a few moments each day connecting with your inner self, listening to your body and sensing whether you are on target for living your life the way you want is one of the most powerful things you can do and will assist you in achieving incredible results in your life.

In fact, you will find that by creating the space to 'Spend Time Within' you struggle less and create more abundance in your world. You are giving yourself the time to replenish and regenerate, to find a sense of inner calm and peace that you then take with you into your external world.

Time for insight and reflection will repay dividends over and over for yourself and the people you interact with daily. You see the bigger picture and are better prepared to take creative and inspired action - rather than reactionary action.'

Well, I do hope you found these Inspirational Leadership Tips inspiring :). As you can see they aren't going to take much time out of your daily work life, but they will help you to be a leader who lives, loves and leads remarkably.

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