I think this is not only a great quote but also the definition of what it means to be an Inspiring Leader.
An Inspiring Leader is someone who gets people to exceed what they did previously, to set new records or to scale new heights and to achieve more than they thought was previously possible.
How do we achieve this?
There are several ways to inspire people.
One is to be the example to show the way, then go the way – this can be very powerful.
It can be done by creating vision that ignites their passion, as John F Kennedy did in 1961 when he announced that they would send an American safely to the moon and back by the end of the decade. This vision was so powerful it inspired an entire generation, an entire nation and even lived on after the assassination of JFK, with ultimately it being achieved in 1969.
One of the best ways to inspire people is to create the belief in themselves that they are capable of achieving big bold goals, by showing them how it can be done, by creating an image of them being successful, and removing any doubts that they might have.
At one company where I worked, our on-time delivery rate was below 40 per cent, there were lots of complaints from the business that this just wasn’t good enough. Having looked that the situation, I decided to announce to the team that we were looking to set a bold goal of 70 per cent for on-time delivery.
I wanted to set an inspiring goal, something that when the team achieved it, they could be proud, no one gets inspired by achieving small goals, but I also wanted to set a realistic goal so that the team would also have belief that they could do it.
Before I set the target of 70 per cent, I looked for examples of what was possible, teams that had done this before, so that the team knew that even though they had never done this before, it was possible, even if it was difficult.
In my experience teams are not afraid of hard work, especially when they know that they will be able to achieve a significant goal.
I also wanted to identify some quick wins, so that not only would the team be inspired by what we were looking to achieve, with the knowledge that it was possible, but I also wanted them to experience early success to motive them and keep them progressing towards the goal.
When you do this, it is very easy to create an inspired team, one that will not only achieve the results but also will look to exceed them, and then look to set itself even higher goals as they start to experience success. Success breeds success.
With the example of my own team, not only did they surpass the goal of 70 per cent by achieving 81 per cent, but now that they were inspired they even set a much higher target for the following year at 90 per cent, which again they exceeded by achieving 95 per cent on time delivery.
One of the crucial elements of being an Inspiring Leader is that we need to be inspired ourselves. If we lack inspiration, then it is impossible to inspire our teams.
So, if you want to become an Inspiring Leader then the first step is to find your own inspiration, and then let your inspired actions look to inspire others.
Gordon Tredgold has worked in IT for over 20 years and is a specialist in Transformational Leadership, Operational Performance Improvement, Organisational Development, Creating Business Value via IT, and Program and Change Management. He is the author of ‘Leadership: It’s a marathon not a sprint’ (£14.99) which is now available on Amazon.