How To Inspire Others

How do you like to do your work? Do you like to make it hard by being un-inspired, or do you like to make it easy by being inspired?

When a highly effective leader motivates their team, it is highly likely that they will also be inspired. A highly effective leader can influence their team both when they are present within the team, and also when they’re not present with the team. Hence, they are both motivational and inspirational.

I was working as a consultant project manager for London Tube Company in early 2019. My role was to manage the overhaul of the fleet of trains that ran on the District Line. The team I had consisted of 9 consultant engineers who had never worked together before, or even met each other before.

The role of the engineers was to validate all of the overhaul instructions, vehicle maintenance instructions, and bill of materials, tooling, and facilities. It was a huge project that was planned to last a year.

The validations that our team were required to complete was massive, so I had to bring the team together and motivate them. Otherwise the project wouldn’t last a year, and our consultancy wouldn’t be offered further projects. There was a lot at stake for us to pull off.

It took about a month to bring all of the 9 engineers onto the project, and then a couple of weeks to delegate the first phase tasks to each team member. 4 of the engineers were contractors, and the other 5 worked for the same consultancy I did.

1. What Is The Goal You Have For Your Team?

So, at first there was a little bit of us and them between the contractors and the consultants. This made my position even harder, because not only did we not know each other, there were also people who didn’t like each other right from the start.

The goal I set for the team was to complete our tasks on time to the best of our ability. But, the real goal I set was for us to get a long and enjoy working together.

Not everyone bought into that goal right from the beginning, so I arranged a social get together to try and get to know each other first before we really got stuck into the work.

We went paint balling together, and then we went for dinner and drinks later in the evening. It was a really good day and we all got a long great. We talked about our previous jobs, our families, friends, told stories, but most of all we were happy to work with each other from then on. It was a huge success.

We went back to work on the Monday morning with a new attitude following our successful social encounter. We were ready to work as a team, and help each other.

2. How Much Does Your Team Rely On You?

The first week of starting the project for real, I did a lot of observing. I wanted to see if the team were relying on me, or relying on each other. I advised the team that I would not be a micro-manager, and be on their back each day looking for updates.

They had the autonomy to make their own decisions and work with the client as they saw fit. I tried to ask a lot of open questions that would enable them to think for themselves and come to their own answers.

By asking questions, I was not telling them what to do, they were telling themselves what to do. I found it interesting because they didn’t realise that’s what they were actually doing.

At the end of the first week, the team worked well together, and without any of my input or direction they had already drew up a plan for the second week. Mark and Dean were two members who worked for the same consultancy as me, and they took me through the plan.

I could tell by their voices that the plan excited them, and I could tell by how they came across that they were both leaders. I saw them as being the leaders when I wasn’t there.

I didn’t tell Mark and Dean that I wanted them to be the leaders, I wanted to see them lead naturally. So in week 2, I did a lot of observing again. This time I wasn’t observing if the team got a long, because they obviously were.

I wanted to see who the leaders were. At first Mark and Dean took charge, and because of their leadership they inspired the rest of the team to lead too. It was amazing to witness a team building themselves into a team of leaders.

3. Giving Your Team Autonomy

Even though I was responsible for this team, it was beginning to feel like I didn’t even need to be there anymore. Which is a great feeling.

I had set the foundations and the goal that we should be a team who got a long and worked well together. Now this was happening, I just needed to assist the team whenever they needed me.

Mark and Dean were learning every day, and every day they were inspired from within because they were making things happen on the project without needing me to motivate them.

The rest of the team were inspired too because they were also making things happen. All I had to do was check on progress with them every Friday, and that is when they took me through the following week’s plan.

Every week when I checked on the team’s progress, it was great to see that everything was on track, and they were even ahead of schedule on some tasks.

During my one to ones with the team, I could tell in their voices that they were enjoying what they were doing. You could really feel that this was a team, and the team was getting stronger every day. Everyone was praising each other and helping whenever they were needed.

I remember one day I walked into the train depot, and three members of the team were witnessing the strip and rebuild of a train gearbox. I observed them from a distance and I could see that they were working in harmony together, and they also had two members from the client team in harmony too.

When they finished, Mark came over to me and told me about all the achievements for the week so far. I was so happy for them, and I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.

4. Allowing Your Leaders To Lead

I felt that I was part of the team, but really I was in the background. But, that was absolutely fine with me because I wanted the team to be the leaders. I wanted them to be on the journey to becoming highly effective leaders too.

All I did was set the tone and the vision for the team, they then took that vision and made it their own. They were inspired and had learned how to become inspirational and inspire others.

Over the whole year throughout the project, the team kept impressing me every day. Especially Mark and Dean, as they continued to motivate the team and inspire them to be the same as them. They led from the front, and led by example.

They stayed late when they needed to. They got in early when they needed to. They even worked weekends for no extra pay. That is how motivated and inspired Mark and Dean were, and I couldn’t have thanked them enough.

Mark and Dean were leaders, as were the rest of the team. But, Mark and Dean kept inspiring, they kept the team together without me needing to be there. The team loved working with them and would go the extra mile for them. It was amazing to witness.

I remember waking up every day when I was part of this project excited to go to work to see what the team were going to achieve. It was like going to a theatre every day. I would go to work and just observe the team at work.

I would grab a coffee with them at break times, and then when they went back to work I would watch them. It was one of the most pleasurable jobs I had ever had.

When you know how to motivate a person, you eventually learn how to inspire a person. When you know how to inspire a person, your influence will increase that much that you don’t even have to be present or in the same room. That is what inspiring a person is.

 “What are you going to do differently?” This is an overused phrase in the world of work. Most of the time nobody does anything differently. To do something differently, you have to do something differently.

What are you going to do differently?

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (Lead, Grow, Influence)

12 thoughts on “How To Inspire Others

  1. I’m going to be recommending this article to my office manager tomorrow. I really think this will help us productivity. Very good leadership advice!

    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found it valuable.

      Please let me know what your office manager thinks and if they begin to change their behaviour in a positive way.

      If you need any further help from me then please get in touch, and keep engaging on future posts.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Fantastic article. There truly is no better feeling than setting the tone then sitting back and watching the team work together like a well oiled machine. It truly is a beautiful sight and I completely understand your sense of pride as the leaders within the group evolved and developed their potential. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your comment, and thank you for engaging again.

      It really is the best feeling you can have as a leader, seeing the team working together and striving to achieve your vision. I couldn’t have said it better myself, a beautiful sight.

      Keep returning, and don’t give up on engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. This is a great article! It reads like a story and you can’t wait to get to the happy ending. This is a wonderful, wonderful example of true leadership and how it can affect an entire team. Companies everywhere should read this!

    1. Hi Manuela,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found it helpful.

      I tried to change this article to read like a story, it’s great that you picked up on that. Leadership is contagious and if you can increase your influence through the whole team and give them the freedom to run with the vision and make it their own, that is when you know you are leading well. The feeling you get is amazing, and you want more of it.

      Thanks again for engaging. Keep returning and engage even more.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for sharing this all-important concept of leadership – the ability to inspire others/team. I particularly like your true test of inspiring when you say that what you want (and I’m paraphrasing here) is for your team to be working on your vision even when you are not there. Brilliant:)

    You touch on a number of practices that helped you to orchestrate this inspiration that you engendered in your team and narrate so well here. One of those behaviours/values is not micro-managing people. This is so key because it fosters trust between you and your colleague. But is a ‘hands-off’ approach always the right method? How do you ensure that goals are on track to be met and that results are consistently good with a predominantly hands-off approach?

    You mentioned how the main goal you had was for everyone to get along but that not everyone bought into the vision at the start. You tackled this challenge by getting the team to bond through a social. Was there anything else you did to help your team buy into that vision? I would have thought it would have taken more than that:)

    Kind regards
    Femi

    1. Hi Femi,

      Thank you for very thorough comment, and taking the time to ask some questions.

      A ‘hands off’ approach is a dangerous term. I would never have a ‘hands off’ approach with any of my teams. What I do is give my team the freedom to achieve the vision. I would ensure to have a one to one with every single member of my teams at least once a week, and the purpose of my one to one is to listen.

      To get the team to buy in to the vision, a social is not enough, you are right. What I do every single day, is work on myself, and help my team members work on themselves too. By building strong relationships, building trust, and increasing my influence with my team, I am gaining their buy-in.

      Even if I am not actually present on the day, I still give every single member a call to discuss how they are, and again, listen to them. The feeling your team get when you listen to them, show them respect and build a strong relationship with them is the feeling of a strong culture.

      If you can do this every day with your team then you are on the right track.

      Tom

  5. Great advice, Tom. I totally agree with you and the point you made in this article. This reminds me of something a colleague said to me many years ago.

    I was the Creative Director of a web design company back in the 90s. The team was growing, and a new designer joined us. It was his first job, and I could tell he was keen to do his best. But at the same time, I could see he was not sure of the corporate culture and the work dynamics.

    Every designer was hired by me. I chose them because I could see their potential and talent. And I am not a micro manager. I would guide and motivate the designers by giving points, sharing ideas, and many other ways. But I would always give them lots of freedom to be creative and come up with designs.

    One day, after lunch, my designers and I were chilling and having coffee. In the course of the conversation, I asked this new designer (and the others) how they were doing, and if they were enjoying their work. And a question I would often ask is how am I doing, and is there any feedback for me?

    The new designer said something that touched me, and I remember till today. He simply commented, “Inspiring.”

    1. Hi Timotheus,

      Thank you so much for your very thorough comment, and inspiring story.

      I loved reading your story, and any story that is so inspirational. It gives me a great feeling and inspires me.

      You are obviously an inspiring person too, and you built a strong relationship with your designers. That is the key if you want to increase your influence with your team, and that is building strong relationships, showing them that you care, and showing them respect.

      Well done, and keep inspiring.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. if there is one thing that I can learn from this article is when we want others to comply to what we want them to do, we must encourage them in the most subtle ways possible by making question instead of demanding them in a demeaning way, this certainly would work well not just with coworker but certainly with everyone. Thank you for the article

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you have learned something from my article.

      Moving away from being a demanding and a demeaning leader is essential if we want our people to be the best they can be.

      To be a highly effective leader, we must increase our influence with our people. To do that we need to show them respect, build strong relationships with them, and help them to work on themselves every day to be the best they can be.

      Thanks again for engaging, and keep returning.

      All the best,

      Tom

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