Elevating Leadership Series: Traits of Extraordinary Leaders Part 2 – Creating Shared Inspiration

Creating Shared Inspiration isn’t rocket science so I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by getting too metaphysical. But before we start, let’s define the root of inspiration: inspire.

Webster’s Dictionary gives the definition as:

Inspire (v): 1. to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence.

                     2. to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.).

So, in creating a shared inspiration, we animate or quicken our personnel collectively. This isn’t a one-time thing, though; this is inspiration with staying-power. It’s not a fleeting motivation-high resulting from a leader dealing a quick, but rather a cathartic, transformational event that imprints on the individual and group identity of your personnel.

How do you create that?

Shared inspiration is composed of two core elements: talent acquisition and vision. Proper inspiration requires the right people and requires direction. Let’s break it down.

Talent Acquisition –

Consider that we, as leaders, have to pick the right people for the right jobs to achieve the highest level of competence and buy-in and, therefore, production. Right person and right job are easy to model on what I call T.A.P.S.: Talent Acquisition Punnett Square (don’t judge me). It’s not an exact science, but you can see what I’m getting at here.

TAPS A, in this case, represents the optimum coupling, B represents less-than-optimal coupling, and C represents a coupling that I recommend be avoided. That said, the outcome that TAPS illustrates can be whatever you want: productivity, buy-in, cohesiveness, the list goes on. The major takeaway is that to create the best-shared inspiration, you have to select the right personnel for the right job.

Let’s assume that you’re recruiting players for a water polo team. When you put out the advertisement, four types of aquatic athletes respond: water polo players, competitive swimmers, synchronized swimmers, and divers; a handful of non-aquatic athletes also respond. Very clearly, the athletes with experience in water polo are the best talent to enlist–the optimum coupling or A. They have the correct athleticism necessary for the job. Creating shared inspiration, theoretically speaking, would be fairly simple because their competency aids in their buy-in. Ideally, we would want to fill the entire team with them, although, we may not have a monopoly on them in the talent pool (See what I did there?). In the pool, we have the other three types of athletes. Competitive swimmers aren’t exactly what we want, but their exclusive technical skills for sprinting and distancing swimming would aid in their integration onto the team as they acquire tactical team skills. Divers and synchronized swimmers, who have even more exclusive technical skills, would be less effective. So, when viewed on the TAPS, water polo players fall in the top left quadrant as the right talent for the right job. The other three athletes fall somewhere in the other quadrants. Again, their skills and competencies benefit shared inspiration because personnel understand how they fit into the larger narrative.

Vision –

Vision is far more esoteric. It offers a bottom-up strategic view of the future of your organization. It explains where the destination is and what the destination looks like. Imagine ancient humans looking up into the heavens and seeing ancient celestial bodies as far as the eye could see and dreaming of ways to reach them. As the millennia ticked away, mankind devised new ways to achieve that goal. It was through vision that mankind achieved flight and eventually space travel. Even though most celestial bodies are still outside of our reach, through vision, we are ever closer. That’s what vision does for us as leaders, it knits together the talent you acquire and the goals we set. Therefore, to create a shared inspiration, a team must have a shared vision–the vision you create.

Let’s get back to our example of the water polo team. The talent needs to know goals and the reward for achieving them. Working hard every day is a grind. Working hard every day with a vision to be league champions gives working hard purpose, and helps create shared inspiration.

The biggest, and often toughest, decision we have to make as leaders is to decide which one to do first. It really comes down to the riddle “What comes first: the chicken or the egg?” Only you can make that decision.  Keep leading!

Up next: Challenge Processes!


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