make me better

by smb on June 11, 2009

One of the best things you can hear as a leader that you are inspiring.

But what does that really mean?

It might be that you told a clever story. Maybe, you have an unusual skill. Did they laugh? It could be that you have lived your life in a manner that seems exceptional. Perhaps, you have beaten the odds.

That’s not all. To be inspiring is not a gift, or chance. To inspire is a skill that answers the fundamental desire of those who can sit still enough to listen: make me better.

Inspiration is not just about the presence of the exceptional, it’s about how one person’s life influences another. It means that something about you resonated with someone and caused them to consider changing something about themselves. It is one level of success to be able to change yourself, it is an entirely additional achievement to motivate that change in others.

And inspiration is a responsibility. If you are in the vaunted (and often not so vaunted) position in the front of the room, you have the responsibility to create the conditions that others can achieve. To be clear – you are not responsible for anyone’s individual success, only for conditions that create the possibility. Your leadership is wasted, and your chance to inspire is lost, if you haven’t considered the potential of success for the others in the room.

If you haven’t yet figured out how to create the space for those who aspire to walk away better than they walked in- there’s still time. If you don’t think that inspiration is part of the job description of leadership – you can’t step aside fast enough.

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