People often mistake inspiration for motivation. In reality, inspiration is bigger than just motivating someone to do more than what they’re supposed to. It’s about passion, finding meaning in the things that we do, and transforming us to be better versions of ourselves. Leaders today play an integral role in inspiring teams, especially more so if a team consists of millennials – individuals who thrive on inspiration to achieve their fuller potential. Don’t worry, though – it isn’t as difficult as it looks! Here are 8 powerful ways you can inspire the people around you:
We’ve been socially conditioned to fear failure, yet it is undeniable that failure is part and parcel of the learning process. Failure is the best teacher. It teaches you to shift your focus from solution to action, placing an emphasis on the learning process. The sooner we embrace that, the more empowered we become to explore new means of doing things. In the early stages of a project, we encourage failing early and often. The earlier you discover your mistakes, the lower the cost of them, and the faster you can use the feedback gathered from your users to refine your idea. Instead of obsessing over the need to get things right the first time, why not look for all the possible scenarios in which you will fail, so that you are able to quickly discover how to succeed? In other words, get all the failure out of the way to make way for greater success.
In Design Thinking, we call it multidisciplinary collaboration. Teams consisting of members from varied backgrounds are able to offer diverse perspectives thus, developing a broader understanding of an issue. Not only that, diversity helps to bring about new ideas and cancels out mental blind spots that may arise from depending solely on a single point of view. The next time you have questions about your idea, bounce it off with someone outside your typical circle. You’ll find that you’ve not only gained a new perspective on the idea, but also widened your own view of the world. Do this often, and the people around you will quickly realise that your collection of experiences and perspectives makes you a smarter leader.
The most important step of any Design Thinking process is empathy. Empathy is about listening to understand people at their core. Weekdone.com finds that 39% of employees don’t feel like their input is appreciated – and this affects productivity. Listen to your team members, make them feel like their opinions matter, and you’ll provide a nurturing environment for them to grow. Even small gestures such as eye contact and nodding could make a difference in helping them feel heard. Always remember – listen to understand, and not to respond.
It is a leader’s responsibility to provide new opportunities for your team to grow and learn. One of the 12 commandments of Design Thinking is to “teach teams with teams”, which means measuring the performance of your teams in comparison to others. Create situations in which individuals and teams can observe and share with each other, and you’ll find that your teams learn faster that way.
From time to time, we get caught up in a flurry of excitement when we are tackling a project. This scatters our energies in different directions, making it difficult for us to make any progress. Among some of the ways successful leaders keep their teams in check is by ensuring buy-in from all team members, making sure each member understands their role in the team. Getting buy-in from the team can also be done by framing problems as challenges, and projects as causes worth championing. Setting clear goals is also important – and it is your role as a leader to make sure that each member understands that his or her skills are valued, and even needed in meeting these overarching objectives.
In a truly multidisciplinary team, you are bound to get a mix of introverts and extroverts. Some may be more afraid to speak up, while others a little more assertive in voicing out opinions and perspectives. In order to get everyone on the team to contribute and bring their best ideas forward, articulate to them that your goal is to gather ideas from everyone, and remind them of it from time to time. One method you could employ to ensure participation from all is by setting up a whiteboard equipped with sticky notes and markers for quieter members to first put their thoughts on paper, then simply read what’s on it. Important thing here is for each team member to be equidistant from the whiteboard so that no one is overshadowed. With the right amount of encouragement, you might even get the most introverted member in your team to speak up most confidently during the next meeting!
Deferring judgement means taking active measures to obtain a fuller and truer picture of the situation before jumping on our assumptions. However, judgement is human nature. The older we get, the more life experiences we gather. Adding to this repository of experiences means thinking we’ve seen it all, and know of all possible scenarios in which a particular idea won’t work. Design Thinking offers a more counterintuitive approach – and that is to defer that judgement, both towards ourselves, and others. By wanting to land quickly on workable ideas, we instantly reject ideas that don’t fit, and this could potentially kill a great idea, and discourage people from contributing again.