Inspiration – What Can We Learn From Inspirational Leaders? And, Why Isn’t The Average Worker Joe Just As Driven As Them?

And, What can the Average Working Joe do about this?

Have you ever observed the energy, focus, and peaceable state of the truly inspired and inspiring leader? Hopefully you will have worked closely with someone on their way up or an exceptional person pursuing excellence – Passionately radiating light, wisdom and enthusiasm to all those around them.

In this piece, we will explore what the phenomenon of inspiration is all about and answer some of the questions you may have about how these remarkable people came to be great in the first place, why some of us mere mortals are not so inspired, and, in closing, we will bring it all together to see what can be borrowed or stolen from these shining stars for our own amusement, benefit and improvement.

11 Qualities Of An Inspirational Leader

  1. Focus

The common factor linking all inspirational people is single-mindedness. Question – If I ask you today, what one industrial sector, single product or service would you focus on, to the exclusion of all other things for 7 days a week for the next 10 years, what would you select?

Answer – If you came up with anything just now, you may have the potential to join the pantheon of greats. If you felt scarce, fearful or overwhelmed when faced with making a critical choice and excluding all other things, then you are… NORMAL!

The vast majority of us wish to keep our options open, hedge our bets – Indeed we believe that risk is reduced this way. The price we pay for our safety is that we will never make a Steve Jobs’ sized dent in the universe.

It is laser focus excluding all distractions, (along with some of the other factors described below) that differentiates the truly inspiring leader.

  1. Work Hard Play Hard, Or Just Work Hard?

Magazine profiles of successful people mostly contain visceral descriptions of their wealthy, comfortable and luxurious life styles and the extraordinary benefits, exclusive access and general privilege that they now enjoy.

These puff pieces miss the point.

The formula for sustained success is abstinence, self-control, frugality and temperance. The venal and self-indulgent tend to be entitled brats – The offspring of dynasties or “clogs to brogues” parents. Many of these silver spooned party animals will end up in jail, rehab or sitting injured having wrapped their luxury car around a tree.

It is not about the trappings.

These can be seen as simply a visible measure of success (as if life was a video game.) The other end of the showing off scale is more useful to observe. Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of all time, lives nowhere, in an average house and drives an average car – And, he is the best.

Sustained hard work requires that we move beyond laziness, passivity and inaction. Once we have conquered our lethargy, the next demon temptation to be resisted is giving in too early to the rewards of our initial success – Victory lies in restraint. We must win out over our primitive lust to consume and our need to alter our psychological state. If we can get passed this, then we reach the final, where we are asked to… conquer ourselves. Success will amplify our essential personality. If you are an asshole now, then building a global empire will turn you into a world-class asshole. Many would look at the lives of Zuckerberg or Gates and find them dull (who wants to wear a grey T shirt every day or spend 10 years + coding?) Their stimulation and psychological pay off came from turning ideas into innovation and having that innovation take hold, and, then be super adopted by the world. And, through making an impact on a scale that only they could ever have believed in. Formula – Hard work, discipline, focus, single-mindedness, etc. etc.

concept of success in business: many members of the business tea

Who is inspirational?

  1. Being an Agent of Change

Question – Are you more inspired by a humble hard working entrepreneur’s eventual success or by a brash and vulgar show-off? Answer – Your reaction probably says more about you than them. Industrial growth requires a blend of just the right amount of God Complex and hard work, combined with an exhibition and demonstration of repeatable behaviours, shown to acolytes as the inspiring leaders radiates out their model of winning behaviours that others can then copy and carry out on a vast scale and at great pace. The leader is a working role model, modelling the best version of what is possible to be picked up, adopted and multiplied by their followers. You are only a leader if others choose to follow and you must be relatable in the workspace, so that average Working Joe will want to join your club. With this formula your crowd of fans will grow in devotion aiming to emulate your example.

The inspiring leader must be seen to be working harder than their staff, contributing more input, and, generating plenty of unique output connected to measurable success. It is this loop that deepens the tribe’s faith in the leader’s brand, myth and legend and so carries the crowd on a cushion of trust and belief to perform with excellence, even when the boss is not present.

  1. Engagement & Delegation

Over the years I have had the privilege to work with some of the greats. They are, mostly, easy to talk to, charismatic and fluent, clear and simple in their communication style, and, generous with their time and attention. They appear to have plenty of free mind space and intellectual bandwidth. They indulge the newbie with curiosity, constructive enquiry and emanate encouragement. In fact, they often skip Blanchard’s “Tell” phase (from his Situational Leadership model) and move right along to inspirational coaching.

They use a mechanism.

No man is an island. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and, you need a lot of people to build a cathedral. Inspiring leaders know that it is about inducting people to your vision, your version and your club. Then, it is about engaging the hearts and minds of your new acolytes. Now comes the ordinary bit – Thinking up and organising what the new, high potential worker bees will actually be doing. This turns a visionary blue print for world domination into an on the ground, reality based, work project.

  1. Passion

Heads of Global web platforms, dominant software companies, World beating manufacturers, super financial institutions, or, far-reaching retailers have something in common – They understand their subject matter and domain to the highest possible level. And, these leaders are able to communicate, despite the complexity of their sector, in a way that is hypnotically engaging, authentically exciting, and clearly, beneficial to their new workers and the end customer. This level of depth is achieved not ascribed. They must hone their vision and translate their dream into the most inspiring story and present this to all around them with a deep and insightful knowledge of the hopes, fears, dreams and aspirations of their audience. They must sing a song that everyone wants to hum along to.

  1. A Natural Born Influencer

Great leaders can emerge from the best of backgrounds or the worst. Both tracks end at the same station. Managed privilege can lead to “Nobless oblige” and the self-fulfilment of an in-group’s high expectations. Here many hot-housed princelings rise to the gold standard. They do so combining effort and access. Along the way they must develop resilience, confidence and pick up the secrets of success, whispered exclusively to members of their rarefied club.

In contrast, the 7th born of 9, brought up in poverty in the countryside can, in exceptional circumstances, rise up from obscurity to become something of note. With contrarian will, these extraordinary outliers grab their lucky break with both hands (finding a sponsor / mentor / conducing work environment) and work twice as hard as their peers, to make progress up the greasy pole. Think old Hollywood, Gerry Robinson (CEO of the Granada group of companies) or the stories of Billy Connolly coming from the slums of Glasgow.

  1. Obsession Obsession Obsession

What else but a pure and constructive form of obsession could have you loose everything TWICE, and, still want to get back on your entrepreneurial horse and try again? Their drive is unnatural and is not solely motivated by the goal itself but by their deep, burning and unanswerable question – “Am I good enough?” “Will I live up to my peer’s expectations?” “I am worthy?” “Am I loved?” Or, they are whipped by a mantra every waking hour – “I will never be poor again” “I will never go hungry again” “No one will laugh at my failure ever again” “I must be the best at this one thing” “Nothing will stop me” etc.

The consequence of these, quite frankly, unhealthy and exhausting drivers is a forged determination for progress, growth and forward momentum that laughs in the face of doubt, fatigue or taking an easier path.

Office workers side by side, celebrating, portrait, elevated view

  1. Purpose

The marriage of drive and discovery produces purpose – An all-consuming engine of work, invention, implementation and problem solving – Getting up, dusting yourself off and starting again and again and again.

Their purpose can be simple. If you wish your men to build a ship, inspire them with a vision of a far off and exotic land.

The inspiring leader’s vision must be clear, relevant, believable and achievable. We forget that Kennedy’s “We will land on the moon” speech was made almost a decade before the moon landings actually happened.

The inspirational leader begins with the why? Why this is important. Why does it matter? Why the benefits outweigh the risks, cost and effort. And, why change needs to happen.

Then comes the what? – Of before, and, the what? of after – Contrast is important in converting a speech into an effective instrument of inspiration.

Then, in small release batches, comes the how? – The method, route and many problem busting solutions.

  1. The Iceberg Leader

We need to remember that whilst we see the share price, the mansion and, maybe, choose to envy the lifestyle, we do not see the 1000s of hours and all the failures and defeats that went into creating the leader’s success evident today. We need to be reminded that they started in their parent’s garage. We do not focus on the multiple rejections that the inspirational leader suffered and successfully recovered from or the 99 other people who attempted the same thing and are now living in modest obscurity – Their version being one of the many versions that did not go on to be adopted by the masses. The current dignity and poise of our hero belies the struggle, the price paid and the pain overcome.

They laughed in the rain long before you saw them smiling in the sunshine.

Competition in business

The Iceberg Leader

  1. Why is Worker Joe Less Inspired or Inspiring than our Hero Leader?

Great question – You probably come from neither privilege nor poverty. You were not programmed by fear or favour. You were not drilled in hard work or subjected to punishments that needed to be escaped. Worker Joe was programmed for compliance, loyalty, community and belonging. Worker Joe was conditioned to settle for a quieter life, a safe life or one where physical and emotional pleasure came at the weekend and became the measure of happiness and success.

Not everyone is destined to be inspirational. In fact, if everyone became an entrepreneurial legend, then…who would muck out the stables or run the machines busily extruding plastic widgets?

  1. What Can Worker Joe Learn From The Inspirational Leader?

At last, we get to the payoff! The inspirational leader naturally assumed their place. For them, there never seemed a choice in this, or, a viable alternative. The same cannot be said of Worker Joe.

But Worker Joe can change.

Worker Joe can follow the inspirational leader’s behavioural formula, think like they do, drive hard like them and communicate like them too. Each moment or sentence is possible. Putting them all together though and sustaining action and momentum? – That is a different matter.

For you, there is now more thinking, choosing and voluntary sacrifice to contemplate before you decide to step up, step into the inspirational leader’s shoes, and, begin the long and hard journey to the top.

Are you ready to face yourself? If you wish to attempt the process of becoming an inspirational leader, it will be conscious and more difficult than it was for the people born to sit in the hot seat.

If you feel like trying on the cloak, do please reflect upon and answer some of the questions below…

Question 1 – If you had to choose to do one thing and one thing only for the next 20 years, what would it be? Where would it be? Who would be involved? And, why would you choose it? (And what sacrifices would you willingly make to stay on that path?)

Question 2 – Have you ever had the discipline to move beyond physical and emotional gratification to achieve something higher and more worthwhile? What was it? Did you stay the course and complete your journey? Did it pay off? And, are you prepared to step up, scale up and risk all by having another go now?

Question 3 – Have you ever succeeded in inspiring those around you (friends, colleagues or family) to attempt something new? Have you jumped up on a chair and broadcast your vision with passion, using the best of your persuasive abilities to inspire a hungry crowd? And, did it work? Did they buy into the future you were selling? Did they follow you? Did they take action? BTW – Did you get a big rush out of it? And, do you want to repeat that experience many times over?

How do you feel about your answers?

Action

If you wish to have a conversation about inspirational leadership and learn more about our courses and coaching, then do call Matthew Hill today, leaving your details and availability on 07540 65 9995.

And, Please like, share and forward to the star in your tribe… Thank you.

About the Author

Matthew Hill is a coach, trainer, keynote speaker, author and, sometime leader of talent. He teaches and works with some of the largest companies in the world as well as helping young talent, SME companies and independent thinkers. His first book – Learn how to LEAD; Believe, Behave & Become was published in 2012 and is available now on Kindle.

Like and share

Advertisements

Collaboration Part 1 – What stands in the way? Matthew Hill

                                    Are we making assumptions and mistakes?

Our many many assumptions only delay the building of effective collaborative structures and getting to positive team collaboration.

The assumptions about collaboration, and, how we should all be able to instantly achieve this nirvana like state, give insights into the difficulties we face, and, they often betray our cultural origins too.

In this, the first of 3 short posts, we will explore the barriers to collaboration in order to confront them, raise self-awareness and, finally, be able to put together a blueprint for effective collaboration across place, time and difference.

Teamwork and cooperation concept

What stops us from working collaboratively?

                                                10 Assumptions and Mistakes

  1. Its all about the goal – Action based organisations or individuals are all about starting fast and ending with the achievement of a goal – growth, profit or the production of a new object etc. Whilst this approach has been enormously effective (with only 5% of the World’s population, the US accounts for 23% of the World’s economy), the magic that creates collaboration happened between the start and finishing lines. We can easily find ourselves looking in the wrong place and focusing on the wrong things.
  2. Nail down the strategy – We are taking a large step closer when we talk about strategy and the HOW? How will we get there? Here, however, the focus, all too often, again, misses out the human, the relational and the emotional. The assumptions made are like an engineer in a factory – building a sausage machine, fill it with sausage meat and casings, and turn it on. We look at process and give emphasis to the technical, whilst again, overlooking the human.
  3. Measurement improves business – You get more of what you measure? Why? Because that is where you put your energy and attention. It is easy to manage activity, and compare input with output – Notice we are back with the sausage machine analogy. This risks drifting into Stephen Covey territory where we are super-EFFICIENT without being that EFFECTIVE. There is a critical difference we must become aware of. You can be driving in a super-efficient way – in the WRONG direction!
  4. Man management will get us there – So we have reached point 4. Are we finally, going to to deal with the emotional human and how we can get them to collaborate? Not quite yet! Historically, humans have been treated as muscle machines; expendable commodities whose freewill must be minimised and whose bodies must be made fast, and, whose minds must be made compliant. Take a moment and consider how obedient are you expected to be in order to continue to receive your pay? It is a little scary. There is an unwritten subtext where you must sublimate much of yourself in order for your face and behaviour to fit in.

I remember my Welsh English teacher, Taff Davies, beginning the year with exactly this metaphor. “What is the key characteristic of an efficient machine?” He asked. Silent running was the answer, he wished to extract from the class.

  1. Privilege – Do you notice who gets promoted? Class based advantage helps promote pale males ahead of others. This happens because of the two confidences – Theirs and ours.

Their confidence is drummed in – Noblesse oblige, duty, leadership, expectation (BTW – This is not a walk in the park – There is a large promise that must be delivered upon by our silver spooned chewing heroes.)

Our confidence comes in the form of preferring to deal with a middle class white male when it comes to anything important. We are ALL compliant in this skewed system.

Society has programmed us to accept a specific and prescribed minority as the dominant leaders in our community. This is historical, political and economic. We have spent much less time, money and energy working to create the conditions necessary for wider, productive and sustainable collaboration.

  1. Me me me – Either from the elite in point 5. or coming from the wide lands around them, the personal agenda of the individual can so easily compete for attention and resources as to undermine the chances of everybody playing nicely, collaborating for something worth achieving, or, the key audience being served at all. Just look at the ego of that person in your own group. You know who I mean.Collaboration - letters written in beautiful boxes on white background
  2. Defensive feelings – It is too easy to get passed people as machines model only to take everything personally. This leads to drama and personal battles that have little or nothing to do with the mission, the team or the service that is to be delivered. – Defensiveness is at the heart of most escalations, team malfunctions and litigation. It is a primal human reaction and will not lead to 1000 create collaborative moments.
  3. The oppressed marginals are included – The opposite of 5., those stuck in the margins have learnt behaviours necessary for them to exist, persist and survive. Their voice is quiet and avoids critical challenge, licenced pessimism or contributing their own innovative ideas. No risk – no punishment. That is the motto of the un-empowered came up with to keep on living.
  4. I don’t do bias – The problem with us humans, is that we think we are objective, intelligent and sophisticated creatures – That we are above the fray. We subconsciously dismiss the views of outsiders, outliers and those not in our gang. And we only vote for our own and take comfort in the tranquil voice of the social leaders as with point 5. We all have plenty of unconscious bias that has been programmed in via parental chat, education, entertainment and, particularly, with every political speech we have heard.
  1. Pleasing people pleases people – We end in irony. Groups comply rather than offer rational challenge for a reason. It is because they wish to enjoy harmony and for each member to be liked.

The assumption is that nice people, doing nice things for the needy is the way to go. It is not.

People pleasers don’t please people. We get nowhere and the wheels eventually fall off the bus. Group thinkers take wild decisions, create unsustainable levels of risk and cannot self-correct.

When we replace groupthink with licenced criticism, we start to create the conditions for GOOD conflict, robust exchange and the possibility of progress. This is challenging in most subcultures, where confrontation is actively avoided (How many times do the Brits say, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry every day?)

Being nice is not always a necessary condition for collaboration.

Conclusion – A raft of assumptions and mistakes stand in the way of forging effective teams, committees and communities that can act with purpose, from a strong based of shared values to achieve worthy and sustainable outcomes.

Next time we look at some exercises that can get us from the 10 assumptions and mistakes mentioned above and move towards behaviours supporting full-on collaborative teams working in a robust, courageous and effective way to fulfil their mandate.

About the author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, presentation coach and leadership trainer, working with commercial and voluntary organisations to help them operate as robust executive teams, fulfilling individual promise and delivering overall results that are extraordinary.

Lead Magnet

Come work with me…

*** SIETAR Congress in Malaga *** – Matthew Hill and Susanna Schuler will be running a workshop on the second day of the 1st SIETAR Spain Congress in Malaga. Saturday, 29th September 2018. After lunch. Do join us if you can…

Matthew Hill – 07540 65 9995

Ethics, Culture and You – Important New Webinar from SIETAR Netherlands.

2PM Dutch Time, 25th June 2018, 1PM, UK time

Sietar Netherlands has recently introduced a Code of Ethics. It has not always been easy. Their journey to finally realize a Living Code of Ethics, combined with a compliance procedure and a compliance committee, has taken three years.

Join us for this special webinar 2PM, 25th June 2018 to meet the three Sietar members that were deeply involved from the beginning.

No Sign, Vector illustration

They will be happy to share their breakthroughs and methods with other Sietarians and interculturalists interested in building up professionalism and process within their own national Sietars and organisations.

Jacqueline Franssens represents the board of Sietar Netherlands and Teuni Looij and Yvonne van der Pol  will represent the working group that arrived at the Code of Ethics. They will tell of their highs and lows on the journey to successfully making a robust Code of Ethics.

Wooden signpost - code of conduct (ethics, respect, code, honesty, integrity).

In the webinar they will answer key questions; Why a Code of Ethics? How did they organize the work? And, How did the process evolve? On what topics did they receive support? And, Where did they encounter most resistance? Finally, Why did they move from working on a Code of Conduct and end up deciding for a Code of Ethics?

Join us for this important broadcast and do please take the opportunity to ask your questions and discover for yourself what is needed to reach a meaningful outcome.

To register simply click on the link and follow the Gotomeeting instructions.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7987223390340296449

 

Trainer Resources – 18 Team Building Exercises and Games – Video

1. – 3 Physical exercises to get the team moving and deciding as a group in the classroom – With thanks to the Vancouver Canucks for their Team Building Day video posted via YouTube.

Preparation – These games takes up some space, require some organisation and require the energy and input of a dynamic facilitator to ensure good group energy levels leading to a rewarding team building outcome;

Help build your team spirit

Help build your team spirit

Great version of the “Minefield” exercise with aluminium pie cases and opaque goggles with instructors directing from the side.

The Water bucket challenge – keeping up a bucket of water using the feet of a team in trainers and socks. Then, one person at a time removes their trainers and socks whilst everybody keeps the bucket in place.

Team skiing – This takes some DIY resources to drill out holes in 4 “skis” and attach ropes to the planks of wood. The ideas is that 4 or 5 team players “ski” in formation along an obstacle course – watch out for the turn around and see the difference in pace between a beginner team and how slick they become at the end of the exercise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtaqb_6BaRE

  1. If you don’t have the resources – This next set are so simple, lots of fun and involve competing with yourself…

Thanks to Australian, Mark Collard for filming and posting these. This name impulse game requires no resources other than chairs and a timer and produces some good clean competitive behaviour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4GUZspslY0

  1. – And, finally, a wonderful fun team building / icebreaker exerciseKnee tag

This needs to be played by consenting, mobile & agile executives!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asbgD6vsjfM

Thanks to Mark Collard at Playmeo for filming and posting this lively game on YouTube.