Managing Great Teams: Just How Inspirational Are You?

2012 has been a pretty momentous and inspiring year for us all. We’ve seen feats of remarkable sporting excellence from our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, watched ordinary people rise up against oppression in Syria, held our breathes as a man reached the outer limits of our atmosphere and leapt back to earth, celebrated as a nation to mark 60 years of service from the monarch and sent our thoughts to communities around the world who pulled together to overcome the tragedy of natural and man-made disasters. Throughout all this we have witnessed individuals with the ability to inspire, but just how inspirational are you?

When we inspire our people we get the very best from them be it in energy, commitment, passion, intelligence and of course results! Being truly inspirational, be it on the sports field, in your community or as importantly in the workplace is an art. Here are five principles that if demonstrated, tend to extract the very best out of people;

1. Be authentic in your approach
Inspiration can be found in all walks of life but those that capture our imagination and command our respect are most often leaders who have forged their own authentic route to the top. These individuals are not afraid to take on a new challenge, map unchartered waters and as a result are living examples of what they talk about – undeterred in the face of risk, personal criticism and often unenviable odds. These are traits I see in many of the entrepreneurs and business leaders I know and work with; a total dedication to realising the opportunities that those less determined shy away from.

They don’t just talk about what they’re fascinated by – they’re immersed in it and exude it, body and soul. One of the real skills they show is to be genuine and to let people see their true side – ‘guard’ down.

Be confident in who you are and what you stand for, and definitely don’t try and be something you are not. Let your people see your limitations (we all have them!) … after all, if you let people see chinks you are more likely to bond. Let your people know that you need them and that together you can be great.

2. Get to know your people
The most successful and inspirational leaders are often those who are “others-focused”; the type of individual who derives an immense sense of pride, satisfaction and personal reward from helping others achieve their dreams or overcome adversity or obstacles. I always find it’s remarkable in the business world just how generous busy people can be with their time. The vast majority of entrepreneurs or senior executives will be happy to commit their time and energy to helping employees, startup entrepreneurs, charitable organisations or community based projects.

The key is to take an active interest in your people’s interests. Be inquisitive and take time to get to know people personally as well as professionally. Do it but be sincere … you should want to get to know them. Find their values and motivations – why is it that they turn up every day? What are they looking to achieve in the future? How can you best support them in achieving their aspirations?

3. Reward your people as well as giving developmental feedback
We’ve all heard the expression “praise where praise is due” but leaders don’t just stumble upon excellence, they make it a focus of their job to hunt out and find examples of innovation, effectiveness and dedication and offer suitable praise or reward.

Catch your people doing things right and offer praise even before they achieve perfection. Small injections of praise give people the appetite and motivation to want to achieve more. ‘Walk the floor’ in order to observe the good – let them see that you are close to the centre of activity. As a guide follow this golden rule … when giving your people feedback – five strokes for every one slap! Getting the balance right enables you to deliver the developmental feedback.

4. Establish an environment that encourages creativity
Provide the space for people to share their views and suggestions for improvement. Set an expectation that people’s views are wanted and listened to. Let your people know that for every problem or challenge they need to contribute towards a solution/option. Be creative in your approach to enabling people to find solutions – set up ‘think tanks’ … challenging people to apply their best thinking and recommend solutions to you.

Importantly also look to yourself- can you explain your businesses vision in a way which inspires those around you. Do you search out examples of innovation and excellence and share them in a way which recognises high achievers? The very best leaders are more than just effective at reporting data, they are storytellers who have a unique ability to convey a message in a manner which binds individuals to a vision, they create loyalty and dedication and most importantly they let creativity and innovation thrive.

5. Let them see you in control
In difficult and challenging times – let your people see you in control. Show that you understand that times are tough but look forward with an air of confidence – after all, confidence breeds confidence. It’s not just what you say it’s how you look! In times of struggle your people will be watching you constantly – you set the tone.

Manage yourself to display only the very best of behaviours and show others the way.

About Dean Williams
Dean Williams is an acclaimed business coach and author of the book ‘Creating Grade A Business Relationships’. He works with blue chip companies and SMEs providing 121 executive coaching, team coaching, leadership seminars and alongside Olympic Gold Medalist Jason Gardener presents motivational speeches. He has been successful in helping suffering businesses by increasing their profitability and is a regular contributor to a range of business press including the Sunday Times.