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7 Principles For Inspiring Employees

by fatweb

By Terry Barber

If someone asked you for a good synonym for inspiration, what would you say? Some might answer that ‘stimulation’ is a good substitute. Others might choose ‘influence’ or ‘encouragement’. But by and large, when people think of inspiration, the word that immediately comes to mind is ‘motivation’.

But are motivation and inspiration really the same? And from a leadership standpoint, which is better? As leaders, we all want certain things from those who report to us. So do we motivate them to action, or do we inspire them?

Employers are great at motivation, aren’t they? Well, it depends on who you ask. Sometimes their methods are less than inspiring: they motivate, all right, but through manipulation or threats. “If you don’t meet this goal…”

Even if an organisation does achieve some results this way, they will be short-lived again, because people haven’t been inspired.

So, what kinds of actions make the difference between inspiring someone and motivating him or her? And what will that mean to you, as a team leader, department head, or CEO?

Here are seven principles for inspiring your employees that you can take action on today. Implement one of these principles and make a difference. Implement all seven and change the culture you live and work in.

1: Authenticity

Don’t hide behind a false image. Authenticity is everything. Share with the people in your organisation where you are weak. Verbally express just how much you need them. Let them know that you know your limitations. Invite them to partner with you to get through these difficult times.

2: Connect with other’s dreams

Use these difficult times to uncover the latent dreams and ambitions of your key talent. Tell them you are more committed than ever to helping them get to where they want to go. Be creative in aligning their tasks for today with their dreams for tomorrow.

3: See in others the abilities they don’t see in themselves

Take time to be observant and notice the talent in those around you. After you have noticed a talent or strength in a person, let them know you noticed it and be specific about what you noticed. Don’t just say “I noticed you are a hard worker”.

Rather, “I notice you care very deeply about making sure the details are in order” or “I notice you are very articulate on that subject”. Look for ways to bring that talent out by providing opportunities and training to support that particular talent.

4: Speak and live with credibility

I also refer to this principle as leading with moral authority. It does not mean much for you to say “let’s keep looking for the opportunity ahead” while living in fear and operating with a scarcity mentality.

5: Inspire with great stories

This is not to be confused with the art of storytelling. The emphasis here is looking and telling stories that have a lesson. What can you glean from the story of one who has gone from rags to riches or better yet, from riches to rags? Pull your team together today and use story to inspire.

6: Help people to live on purpose

Remind them that what happens at work is only a portion of their life. As important as that portion is, it is not all that there is to life.

7: Create a culture of inspiration

Follow the example of great coaches and become teachers committed to excellence and character development. Chasing numbers and making decisions by looking only at the “bottom line” causes us to be reactive and impulsive.

Terry Barber is an inspirational speaker and corporate trainer and founder of the Inspiration Blvd. For the last 20 years he has been a consultant to nonprofits on how to inspire their constituents to give and get involved. For more information please visit,

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