Do You Have What It Takes To Be Inspiring?

"Mary, I need some inspiration.” This is what I heard one day from one of the staff members when I walked into my favorite local coffee shop. I know them well. I'm their unofficial den mother.

The word often puzzles me, especially when we are looking to someone else for inspiration. Lists of leadership traits often include the ability to inspire.

Can we actually inspire someone else deliberately or is it just the outcome of being ourselves?

What does inspiring some one involve?

I asked several of my cohorts in planting seeds of leadership from the Lead Change and Google+ communities. Here’s a whole batch of wisdom I got from them. Some themes emerged.

Lead From Who You Are

“Be positive, share who you are, uplift yourself at every turn and let it show. Share your vision profusely,” says Monica Diaz, fellow character-based leadership instigator, coach, educator, and passionate advocate of human connection.

Paula Kiger, Lead Change Group community manager, suggests to remain true to yourself. Don’t just change direction because of what the group wants or because of criticism. Be consistent day in and day out so people know to trust you will be there.

Be Transparent, Show vulnerability.

“I like to share how I may have failed and what I learned from it. I find that people respond well when they realize you are sharing something that isn't necessarily easy for you to discuss," says Christopher Zaucha, leadership aficionado in the construction industry.

“Be authentic. No faking. Be vulnerable. Prove you are human and that you make mistakes. Show that you learn from them and you grow,” says Chery Gegelman, Lead Change Group instigator and lead at Giana Consulting.

“Share your personal stories of overcoming challenges,” states Karesa Blagrove, inspiring team lead at The CBI Group.

Encouragement Is Key

“I might just encourage them to live their passion, share that passion with others, and show the world their joy," says John E. Smith, educator, facilitator, writer and fellow instigator.

David Dye of Lead Change Group Leading Voice and founder and president of Trailblaze, Inc. tells us, “The ability to inspire is not charisma. It's the message to another person that they can. Your confidence in your people becomes their belief in themselves,”

“We inspire when we do things that help others believe they can achieve their greatest goals. When we believe we can, we are inspired. When others help us believe, they inspire us.” says Mike Henry, Sr.,  founder, Lead Change Group.

Look To Your Own Experience

“Think about what has inspired you personally. I feel inspired when a leader includes me in decision-making, asking my opinions and considering my input. I feel inspired when I see a high-level leader work alongside the mailroom personnel to get a big job out the door… I feel inspired when a leader makes sacrifices… such as coming over to help clear the mud and debris from an employee's flooded house,” says Leigh Steere, co-founder of ManagingPeopleBetter.com.

Susan Mazza, Lead Change Group Leading Voice, author and founder of Random Acts of Leadership offers: “If you want to be inspiring to others be inspired BY them. My daughter’s lacrosse coach is masterful at this. He has created an upward spiral of energy. It is not hard to find things to be inspired by when you observe these girls as each year they live into a legacy of expectation for them to be great and do great things.”

What About You?

Back to my buddy in the coffee shop. I asked him what he meant when he was asking for inspiration. He said he needed motivation, not only at work, but in his personal relationships too. I would go so far as to say he was looking for encouragement – a mindset shift that would allow him to carry on with energy and confidence.

There are so many interpretations of inspiration. Next time someone uses that word, ask them what it means to him or her, and how you can help.