They make it look easy – those managers who seem to have a superhuman ability to inspire employees to always do their best. Sometimes it's by fluke, and sometimes it's their naturally magnetic personalities.
It's no secret that an inspired workforce delivers the best results, and fosters a winning company culture. But what if you're in a management position and you weren't blessed with charisma? The good news: it's not all about luck. Some tried and tested techniques can help you inspire your team to achieve greatness. Here are a few pointers from some famously inspiring people.
Let them know you care about them
Instead of focusing on motivating your employees to work, try focusing on making them happy. After all, happy employees often translate to happy customers. One of the best examples of this is set by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, whose leadership style has driven the online shoe retailer's massive success. How? Its employees are wholeheartedly dedicated to delivering exceptional customer service (aka making customers happy), because they are happy to do it. They're happy to work where they are treated like part of the family, not just as a contributor to the bottom line.
"At Zappos, our higher purpose is delivering happiness," Hsieh told Carmine Gallo in Business Week. "Whether it's the happiness our customers receive when they get a new pair of shoes or the perfect piece of clothing, or the happiness they get when dealing with a friendly customer rep over the phone, or the happiness our employees feel about being part of a culture that celebrates their individuality, these are all ways we bring happiness to people's lives."
Hsieh wrote a book called Delivering Happiness, which outlines how to cultivate happiness not only at work, but also in life, and regularly speaks on the topic.
Communicate a clear vision
In Forbes Magazine, Carmine Gallo reminisced about the time he was fortunate enough to dine with Neil Armstrong, one of the most beloved and humble heroes of our time. Gallo observed as Armstrong fielded many questions from other dinner guests, all the while refusing to take credit for his amazing achievement of being the first man on the moon.
"I loved the story, but Armstrong taught me a far more important lesson that night," Gallo recalls, "Nothing great happens without an inspiring leader who articulates a vision that challenges the status quo and unleashes our collective imagination."
So who could be credited with communicating the vision that inspired the team of 400,000 people to make the moon landing possible? It was John F. Kennedy, who stated in 1961 "By the end of the decade we will land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth."
Ask for their input
Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour fitness apparel, believes that being a good leader also means inviting your employees to offer their input. Not only does this produce some winning ideas for your organization, but it also lets your employees know you value them.
"I listened to everyone's input, and, without fail, they'd bring up things I hadn't thought of," Plank told Inc. Magazine. "More important, my team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered. Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued."
Now go forth, and inspire!
Being an inspiring leader is really all about setting a good example, and showing your staff you value their work. Try implementing these tips little by little and you'll not only start to build a winning workplace culture, but you might just see some impressive fluctuations in your organization's overall performance.