The real test of leadership isn’t what you do; it’s what you inspire others to do.
Great leaders inspire others to contribute greatly. The shift from individual contributor to inspiring others may be your greatest leadership challenge. They — rather than you — become central.
1. Pushing people isn’t inspiration. Ever feel like you’re pushing people to do what you want? It’s unsatisfying, frustrating and draining. Think pushing ropes. If you feel like you’re pushing ropes, you aren’t leading; you’re manipulating, coercing, or pressuring.
2. Inspired people pull you; you don’t push them. The test of inspiration is igniting passion in others. Once you inspire someone, they frequently go further than you expect. They challenge you to reach beyond your initial expectations. They press you. You don’t press them.
3. Shared values are foundational to inspiring. Don’t ask people to align with your values; align with theirs. When you determine what makes someone tick, you’ve found the secret to inspiring them.
4. Tell the truth about challenges — optimistically. The bigger the challenge, the more valuable their contribution becomes. Minimizing devalues.
5. Asking inspires; telling deflates. Telling makes people feel like cogs. Asking makes them participants. Participation fuels passion. Ask things like:
a. Is this who we want to be?
b. Why is this important?
c. How can we move toward our goal or vision?
d. What do you bring to the cause?
e. How can I help?
f. What’s next?
6. The map they draw is better than the map you give them. You’re pushing ropes when you come down from on high and say, “This is where we’re going and how we’re getting there.” You lose power when you tell and gain it when you ask.
How can leaders ignite passion in others?