As a business owner or manager, you want your team to be actively engaging with their work, with each other and actively moving towards the objectives of the business. There are many ways in which objectives can be achieved, with varying levels of effort and success, depending on many factors, however much of the team’s success will come down to the quality of the leadership.

Manager vs Leader

Many managers are focused on the numbers and reports, on the systems and structure in the business, and can struggle to hold a long-term vision. They’re often busy maintaining day-to-day functions, putting out small fires, attempting to control all the moving parts of the business. Maybe you’ve had a manager like this, or can identify yourself as having some of these traits.

Leaders on the other hand have a long-range, big picture view and seek to develop rather than maintain the status of their people, processes and the products/services being offered. Leaders don’t shy away from challenges, are open to change, and they typically trust their people to take charge of their area of the business and report back as needed. They’re less distracted by the day-to-day tasks and have more space to support their teams with innovative, inspiring solutions.

Of course, great leaders also know how to manage the operational aspects of the business, understand the systems and processes and financial implications of business activities, while maintaining an overview of what their people are doing, they’re just less likely to micro-manage or undermanage their teams. A great leader’s approach is more about inspiring a connection to the greater vision of the business.

Uninspired, unmotivated team?

If you have a team of unmotivated, underperforming staff, there are a number of factors which may be contributing to the situation and inspiration alone is not likely the answer.

There are many ways we can motivate employees to accomplish their objective, or work through a difficult time, like making sure goals and expectations are clear, paying competitive rates, ensuring there is an effective structure and processes and having a good workplace environment.

However, if you have all the right things in place and you’re still not seeing the results you expect, it may be worth considering how inspired your team is.

If your team isn’t inspired at work, then as a manager, that might mean you are constantly reminding people of deadlines, dealing with absenteeism or lateness, managing poor performance, and missing out on sales or opportunities.

Motivation versus Inspiration

People without a clear vision, mission, or purpose often require a lot of external motivation to keep them focussed on tasks and moving forward in their role. Think of motivation as the classic carrot or stick approach, whereas inspiration is more like igniting a flame inside that lights up and empowers people to work towards business goals as if they were their own.

What can you do to inspire your team?

Great leadership comes from the top – you yourself need to feel inspired. This is key. These are some steps you can take to start inspiring people through your inspired leadership.


1. Clearly articulate the vision, mission and values of the business.

Why does the business exist and what is the mission or ultimate vision you have for the business? What values are underpinning this? Make sure you share these consistently and regularly with your team and new starters.

2. Acknowledge your employees as more than just employees

People want to feel some level of certainty, safety, a sense of belonging and purpose. Workplaces can provide these through sharing business plans and achievements, acknowledging their people for their work and providing recognition and reward for those actively contribute to the success of the business.

3. Collaborate with your employees

Find out what their individual goals are, personally and professionally, and find where there is alignment to any of the business goals. For example, they may want to study a language short course, and the business wants to grow into a new region. By having these conversations to uncover the goals of individuals, and supporting their employees to achieve them, they’re inspiring people to work for something more than their pay.

4.  Make time for effective communication

This doesn’t mean more meetings! Some employees are thoroughly uninspired after a long and unproductive meeting. Instead, find the communication methods that are most effective for your team, and use these to foster relationships, actively seek and provide feedback, develop strategies and ultimately achieve goals.

5. Be open to listening

Sharing your vision and goals is important. To lead inspired teams it’s crucial to also allow your people to share their feedback and ideas to contribute to this vision. While providing clear goals and expectations is needed, simply dictating what needs to be done isn’t going to inspire people long term.

6. Be inspiring

Always act with integrity, and inspire trust in your leadership by being clear with your communication, following through on your stated intentions, and remember your team is looking to you for guidance – they’re noticing everything that you do and don’t do – so be sure your actions are inspiring and aligned to your greatest vision.

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