Everyone has moments where they want to be the quarterback inspiring their team to make big plays on the football field.
Government employees are no exception, and scores of public servants wish that they could drive their teams towards new successes every day.
Fortunately, a top leadership coach says that anyone can inspire others in their lives by practicing five big moves.
“When it comes to inspiration, we decide what inspires us,” Kristi Hedges said Thursday during GovLoop’s 2019 NextGen Government Training Summit. “It’s very different from influence. If we want to be more inspirational, we can lay the breadcrumbs and create the optimal conditions to inspire others.”
Hedges said that inspiring others begins with being present, which involves devoting one’s full attention to the issue at hand.
“Listening feels like care,” said Hedges, who is also an author, speaker and communications expert. “Attention feels like respect. When you’re in a position where you really want to inspire someone else, these things are the gatekeepers. Even having a phone sitting on the table – even if it’s off – decreases the level of empathy between two people in a conversation.”
Next, Hedges continued, one must shift their listening from merely looking to solve problems to actively taking the perspective of others involved with a challenge.
“Inspirational leaders create space for me to think through things,” she said, noting that a difference exists between questions that are curious about another person’s perspective and questions that are closed to understanding that perspective.
After that, Hedges noted that inspiration involves building potential in others by encouraging their strengths.
“We already see it, we just don’t say it,” she said of the level one’s peers can reach. “We have more resonance with these comments then you would believe.”
The fourth step, according to Hedges, is calibrating the energy that one expresses to the people that they’re trying to inspire.
“We catch the mood of other people,” she said, citing upbeat people who create positive atmospheres as an example. “That’s what’s called the mood contagion. Your energy is a strategic resource. Wherever you want someone’s energy to be, you should be a couple notches beyond them.”
Hedges concluded that the final part of inspiring other people involves talking about the purpose that one has in mind.
“That’s especially important to public servants,” she said. “When people can see the inspiration that we have, they’ll follow. Your purpose can’t be found on a mission statement. You decide your own purpose. How is what I’m doing helping me move towards something that’s important to me?”
Hedges argued that talking about one’s purpose can include multiple topics – what one is good at doing, what forward momentum one has, what usefulness one has, what one enjoys doing and what one’s relationships to others are.
Ultimately, Hedges added, agencies that have more inspired workforces achieve more mission successes.
“When we’re inspired, we create more inspired groups, communities and organizations,” she said. “Positivity spreads. Inspiration comes back to us in many ways. It’s something that has lasting implications.”