Great Leaders Shoot For The Moon

“In the long run you hit only what you aim at. Therefore, though you should fail immediately, you had better aim at something high.” Henry David Thoreau

For some time now there has been a misconception floating around. Some speakers, trainers, managers, and leaders have been saying that no one can motivate anyone else, that all motivation must come from inside the individual.

But stop and think. I’m sure you can remember a number of times when you were inspired by someone else. You may have had a mentor who believed in you more than you believed in yourself, and as a result, you achieved things you never thought you could achieve.

Or think about that boss who made work fun–or that company leader who got you so excited about a project that you produced far beyond your usual capacities. The fact is you can be highly motivated by the right leader.

When Napoleon was on the field, for example, Wellington said it was the equivalent of fighting against another 40,000 men. He motivated his soldiers to become super soldiers.

So you’ve got to stop and wonder. Why is it that some people are so good at motivating others? What makes them so effective as leaders?

The research says that it has little to do with their looks, education, or family heritage. Quite simply, motivating leaders have a style that spreads excitement and energy to others.

In fact that’s the essence of my program on “Peak Performance: Motivating the Best in Others.” You can give me a call if you’d like to book the program.

Let’s take a look at that motivating style. Here are a few things you can do.

=> 1. Verbalize An Inspiring Vision.

While there is a lot of good in the Japanese style of management, most people still want bold leaders. They want leaders who have a clear vision and then talk the talk.

Truly great motivators talk. They know that well chosen words, repeated often enough, will eventually gain a following. In fact the whole western world owes its existence to the words of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Churchill’s words gave hope in an almost hopeless situation. The old bulldog of Britain would say, “Never, never, never give up.” And Roosevelt was able to coin a phrase that summarized his vision, and those phrases motivated a nation. He reassured us that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

=> 2. Project A Courageous Spirit.

Motivating leaders are not afraid of the doomsayers who will object to the vision or say why it can’t be done. They know that great achievements have always come “after” the leader took the risk of speaking out, and they’re willing to take the risk.

Motivating leaders just keep on projecting their courageous spirit — kind of like that one husband. After years of scrimping and saving, he told his wife the good news. He said, “Honey we’ve finally saved enough money to buy what we started saving for in 1989.”

“You mean a brand new Lexus?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “a 1989 Lexus.”

In a similar sense, you need the ability to consider but not be intimidated by the criticism of others. You need to be willing to be unpopular for a while.

Perhaps no one did that better than Lincoln who was viciously attacked by the Eastern press. Being a wise and sensitive motivator, he did not ignore his critics, but he also knew he could not motivate people if he tried to please everyone. So he posted this sign: “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end.”

=> 3. Behave With Enthusiasm.

When a leader attacks a project with enormous energy, others quickly notice. And eventually they find themselves affected by the leader’s enthusiasm. As Emerson said, “Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm.”

Quite simply, people love to work for those who love what they’re doing. Enthusiasm spreads — most of the time.

I remember a CEO of a manufacturing company who was explaining the new company policy to the employees. He said, “In upcoming years we are going to become more and more automated. Now I know that many of you will be concerned that our new robots will be taking your jobs. But I want to reassure you that we are taking steps to guarantee all of you will remain on the payroll. According to the plan we are developing, you will receive a full week’s pay, but you will be required to work just one day a week. And we are designating Wednesday as your workday. You will only have to come in on Wednesday.”

Suddenly, from the back of the room, a worker asked, “Will we have to come in EVERY Wednesday?”

Don’t be led astray by the notion that you can’t motivate others. You do make a difference. Your spirit absolutely, positively inflates or deflates the motivation of others. So it only makes sense that you develop a spirit of leadership that spreads excitement and energy to others.

Action:  How would your coworkers rate you? Would they give you an A, B, C, D, or F when it comes to: 1) verbalizing an inspiring vision, 2) projecting a courageous spirit, and 3) behaving with enthusiasm?

If you get anything less than a B, be aware of the fact that you’re not bringing out the best in others. You’re letting a lot of their untapped motivation slip by the wayside.

With that awareness in mind, take some action to raise your grade.