Think back to a time when you were really inspired. An idea triggered something in your brain that made you think, “That’s it. That’s the answer!” What follows inspiration is a passionate, dedicated approach to achieving a goal you believe in. How can you cultivate this attitude in your employees? How do you create an environment of inspiration?
There’s a big difference between inspired employees and professionals just doing their jobs. Inspired people have unparalleled enthusiasm, and they deliver high-quality, efficient work. While many people think you have to sit around, waiting for inspiration to strike, recent
Discovering What Inspires Us
As a company leader, it’s your job to create a workplace where people continuously feel inspired. Because different people are inspired by different things, it can be a challenge to create a universally inspiring environment. Usually, our own life experiences determine what ignites our brain and makes us want to go beyond the call of duty; however, there are a few universal motivators:
The Big Picture
A common goal or purpose that’s bigger than any one person or company can inspire people to think big. While a company may offer a product to help professionals reduce the time spent finding information, its higher purpose should be more expansive, such as helping communities thrive through the democratization of business knowledge.
Examples of perseverance
People, companies, or societies that have overcome a greater obstacle are often a source of inspiration. We can look to them as examples of how to persevere, and seeing what they’ve overcome can put our own obstacles in perspective. Seeing a heart patient cross a marathon finish line inspired me to be a more active athlete while healthy.
Examples of achievement
It’s natural for us to want to live up to the standards set by individuals or companies that have achieved what we want to achieve. Apple has become an example of pioneering innovation in a way that anyone can strive to emulate.
Six Steps to Creating an Environment of Inspiration
Inspiring someone once, for a short period of time, is relatively simple. However, when you’re attempting to create an environment of continuous inspiration, the task becomes much more difficult. Follow these six steps to create an environment of inspiration:
# 1. Train for work mastery
To be inspired, the mind must be prepared for inspirational experiences. A big part of this preparation is work mastery. Though inspiration and effort aren’t the same thing, effort is essential for inspiration. Implement training and education programs that will help your employees achieve work mastery, and their minds will be prepared for inspiration.
# 2. Encourage openness to experience
When psychologists Andrew J. Elliot and Todd M. Thrash were developing the Inspiration Scale, they found that openness to experience was frequently a precursor to inspiration, which suggests it’s more likely for individuals to be inspired when they’re open to it.
You can encourage your team to be more open to experience by disconnecting them from their routine and trying something new. Go to a museum, build something, or volunteer your time; let life inspire them. You can also initiate an ongoing dialogue about what inspires people.
# 3. Facilitate and recognize small accomplishments
Small accomplishments can facilitate inspiration and, when they do, a creative cycle begins that can increase productivity. Marina Milyavskaya and her colleagues noted in a recent study that “goal progress and goal inspiration build on each other to form a cycle of greater goal inspiration and greater goal pursuit.” Therefore, you should facilitate and recognize the small, as well as the large, accomplishments of your employees.
# 4. Look to the future
Communicate what the future you envision looks like and how each department and individual plays an important role in making that future a reality. Ask your employees to visualize the day your company achieves its goal. Walk through what that day looks like; Marc Miller and Ken Blanchard’s book, “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know — and Do,” can help your team work through the visualization process.
# 5. Provide inspirational examples
Invite inspirational guest speakers from outside the business to talk about their own experiences in overcoming challenges or achieving success. You should also invite guest speakers who have achieved what you’re striving for. Discuss how, as a team, you can learn from their examples and apply their strategies to your own work. We recently invited a leader from the Armed Forces to talk about what it takes to build a winning culture.
# 6. Become an inspiring manager
According to the article “Changing Roles: Leadership in the 21st Century,” by Gregory C. Dess and Joseph C. Picken, leaders must empower all employees, accumulate and share internal knowledge, challenge the status quo, gather and integrate external information, enable creativity, and use strategic vision to inspire and motivate.
Though most company leaders would hesitate to compare themselves to Steve Jobs, who had all of these strong, unique attributes, we should strive to achieve these goals in order to become an inspirational leader. This is, perhaps, the single most important thing you can do to create an environment of continuous inspiration.
Though there’s no secret formula that will yield inspiration every time, it is possible to create an environment that’s conducive to inspiration, making it more likely to occur. In addition, once you’ve succeeded in creating and maintaining this type of environment, inspiration will only gain momentum and happen more frequently. The end result is a positive, productive work environment in which employees can find creative pathways to their own success — and the success of the company.
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