Inspiration: The First Stop on the Road to Success
Inspiration: The First Stop on the Road to Success
Of the many responsibilities we are called to every day in the construction business, one stands out as underserved and neglected – inspiration. At its core, leadership is inspiration.It’s taking people somewhere on purpose; moving them to act of their own volition, to follow, support and devote themselves to the mission at hand.
But we’re busy. And over time, inspiration, the fundamental driver of our success, often ends up viewed as something nice to do, but of little importance. How about your people? Are they inspired? Thinking back, I’m sure there were many days that mine weren’t. I mostly (and wrongly) assumed that given the privilege to work at my company, they should show up and somehow be magically filled with the desire to give it all they had for the team every day. I was wrong.
Leadership Doesn’t Happen Accidentally
Neither does success. Ironically, in our quest to win, the things we want the most from people such as accountability, respect and collaboration, are those that are most jeopardized without inspiration. Tradition pits ambitious, driven leaders against uncooperative people, set on doing things however they see fit. And where those battle lines are drawn, organizations flounder. The late Peter Drucker, popular author and business consultant, has noted that “Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.”
Our best days were a result of my best days as the leader. The same is true for you! When we were most successful, we were beating the odds and overcoming complex problems every day. We were better on those days because people were inspired to tackle problems head on rather than sitting back waiting for someone else to. They were all in.
Two Prerequisites of Compelling Leadership
I wish I could say that was every day. But it wasn’t. In the daily grind of demands, distractions and diversions, the need to be an inspirational leader (which is really the only kind of true leader) was often hijacked by my own shortsightedness. The need to “get things done” was intoxicating. Busyness, it seems, is insidious. It’s a sort of disease so common in our industry that most of us can’t see it but suffer its symptoms almost daily; fatigue, frustration, stress and more.
This cycle can be broken. In fact, to achieve lasting outcomes in the construction industry, in spite of its many unique challenges, starts with inspired leaders and inspired people. And practicing two prerequisite leadership skills will set you and your organization on that trajectory almost instantly:
Set a Clear Destination
Dale Carnegie has been quoted as saying that “The man who starts out going nowhere, generally gets there.” It just makes sense that if you want to go somewhere you would define what “somewhere” is. Most of us don’t. Inspiration is not an intellectual ascent to someone else’s grand vision or desire unless that vision and desire is shared. “Somewhere” has to be clear and compelling to be inspirational. Inspired people are those who have been impacted emotionally to voluntarily choose to follow and participate.
What is your mission – your “Why”? Have you defined it clearly and shared it relentlessly with your people? When I ask leaders this question the answer is often silence. If you’re committed to winning, that’s not good enough, for you, your people or your organization.
Start by thinking back to why you first started your business, and why you do what you do today. It may be disturbing to find that your purpose/mission has become much less clear or important over time. But without that clarity, leaders are much more prone to being driven by others’ agendas, needs and low expectations. That posture, one of reacting vs responding to our environment, is the antithesis of compelling leadership.
Few would argue that companies producing consistent profits above industry standards are almost always those driven by a clear, compelling “Why”. This kind of success does not happen incidentally.
Create ‘Follower’ Environments
People choose who they will allow to lead them. Leadership cannot be coerced! That means for real leadership to take place, people must find a compelling reason to want to follow. It’s up to the leader to intentionally create the environment where they will so choose.
The mandate is not on the people, but on those who aspire to be their leaders. James MacGregor Burns, in his impactful book “Leadership”, notes that “The practice of leadership is not the same as the exercise of power.” Our perceptions of leadership as power are flawed and even backward. It’s those who consistently recognize the underused but immensely powerful practice of inspiration, who will ultimately prevail when it comes to motivated and productive teams.
The choice is yours. What is your “Why”? Making wise choices and seeing your team do the same, day-in and day-out, is a function of inspired leadership and inspired people!
If you need help, encouragement or support Legacy Business Leaders is here for you. Call anytime at 330.470.1300, or visit us on the web at www.Legacybizleaders.com. We would love to have the opportunity to be a part of your success story!