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Inspire and Support Your Team

leadership transition Oct 25, 2023

- By Sophie Pinkoski

It's a complex world with challenges highlighted in every form of media. Today's times forces us to evaluate our values and priorities in our personal lives and at work. We look to purpose and inspiration in our work to know that we can make a positive difference.

As a leader, get to know your team well enough to understand what speaks to them most.

The first step to becoming an inspirational leader is recognizing that each member on your team is unique. They each have needs, interests, and passions unique to their specific personality and situation. What motivates one person may not work for another.

Therefore, it’s essential to customize your approach to align with what resonates with each individual.

When you get to know your team better, you can begin to build a tool box of resources and strategies that can appeal to many perspectives.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t come naturally to you; inspirational leadership can be learned. Here are some ways to inspire your team:

Take a humanistic approach–– A big part of traditional leadership was once being able to separate your personal and career life to maintain your professional reputation.

However, people have come to respond more to leaders who are more relatable and accessible.

They respect a leader who can open up about their own experiences with success and failure. When you can do so in your transparency, you normalize struggling with challenges and taking risks. Moreover, it gives your team a clear example of what is possible and what they too can work toward.

Trust in their responsibilities–– Give your team ownership over their work. Let them take the lead on important projects by outlining the intended end goal, but trust in the process of how they choose to get there. Regular progress check-ins will help indicate what is working for them and where you can fill their resource gaps in areas they may be struggling. When individuals are given authority over tasks, they have a strong sense of responsibility, ownership, and pride in their work, and will be invested in going above and beyond to achieve the best results.

With you as a supportive resource on the sidelines, they will have the confidence to push themselves to rise to any challenge of their own initiative.

Believe in your team–– Building mutual trust is a fundamental element of inspiration. When you trust in your team, you believe in them. The more you make this apparent to them, the more they will be motivated to prove themselves and excel. Creating an environment of psychological safety is part and parcel with building an innovative team.

A leader's faith in their team's capacities encourages them to contribute fresh, new ideas to meet your organization’s mission and goals, further driving their sense of purpose within their role.

Openly trusting in them puts them at ease to bring out the most authentic version of themselves to do their best work.

Build up their potential–– Let your team reach their highest potential by being a great teacher and mentor to them. Challenge them through meaningful, positive, and constructive feedback. Your mentorship and coaching is the most valuable asset you can give them.

Share your journey with them; they will want to know how you got to be in the position you are in now, pitfalls and all.

Having an example of the possibilities available to them at their fingertips will strengthen their drive to achieve their own dreams and far exceed expectations. Fostering a culture of continual curiosity, growth, and learning will also push them toward reaching their goals. Recognize their achievements at every step of the way so they can better map out their progress and continue their forward momentum in their personal development.

Let your belief in your team guide you. Be intentional and frequent in your recognition of their achievements, both big and small.

People need to be seen and heard. They want to know their contributions and skills are appreciated. How are your team members’ skills adding value to your organization? Remind them frequently of this to nurture their sense of purpose both for your team and the community it serves. Relate their successes to yours to give them context for what they can achieve. Show them what they’re capable of by sharing what you yourself have achieved. Coupled with actively supporting them as a mentor and accessible resource, you will inspire your team to do far more than they ever thought possible.


Further Reading

Brown, Brené . Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House Publishing Group, 2018.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Collins, 2016.

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books, 2009.

Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't. Penguin Books, New York: 2014.

Sinek, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin Books, New York: 2009.

Zander, Rosamund Stone and Zander, Benjamin. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Penguin Books, 2000.

Gifford, Thomas. The Inspirational Leader: Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. 2019.

How to be an Inspiring Leader, Harvard Business Review

15 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Team, Forbes

The 7 Characteristics of Inspiring Leaders, Entrepreneur

9 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team, Inc.

To Inspire Your Team, Share More of Yourself, Harvard Business Review

How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek, TED Talk

The Power of Vulnerability, Brené Brown, TED Talk

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink, RSA Animate

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth, TED Talk

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