Blair Singer operates from the premise that organisational change and development can only truly happen as a function of personal development. His business is turning companies into Fast Companies through team, leadership, sales and communication training. He also trains managers and business leaders to facilitate behavioural change in their organisations. In this article he explains the role of inspiration in team development.
As a leader, your job is to do more than divulge information; it is to get through the mental obstacles and fears that many people have about education. Years of conditioning, of buying into the notion that only the smart will win and that education is boring, resides in the minds of many of your constituents.
Truly successful teachers are great leaders – they have a way to blast through the wall of haze that glazes over peoples eyes when they are told they have to learn something new or that they have to change.
The haze in their eyes and the cloud that swamps student’s brains is natural and common. Your job in teaching or educating is not to get to most people or to inform just those who can pick it up…your job is to enrol and get through to 100% of your students or staff.
The tragedy in traditional school systems is that many students get left behind, scared with the notions that they are not as good as others. I have worked with enough thousands of people and children to know that there is no such thing as learning disability – there is only teaching disability. That is, the inability of the teacher to get through to the student.
Data vs. Inspiration
The job of the leader is to inspire learning. In my trainings, when choosing between the data and the inspiration, I always err to the side of inspiration. Because in the long run, it unlocks the blocks to learning, it clears the haze and blows away the clouds of doubt and old belief systems. It is not always easy, but the rewards are huge! For many, learning becomes a new way of life. The thirst to know more and more increases exponentially.
Every living thing on planet earth has an inborn desire to grow. You have to try very hard to prevent growth. Even a blade of grass demands to live, breaking through even the thickest of concrete. Human beings are no different. The mind wants to grow and grows by developing new neurological pathways of learning, problem solving and understanding.
So once the mind ‘sees the light’ or realises that learning is possible, fun and enjoyable, it wants more and will seek out new information on its own.
I have watched students go away fired up to research and look for further information on their own, I have watched workers create their own innovative solutions without coaching or prodding, simply because the blocks to learning have been removed.
How do you do that? Through inspiring individuals right to their core. You must operate on the premise that every living person has a God given gift or talent waiting to be exercised. By instilling that hope and by operating from that attitude, they will open like flowers right before your eyes. But it cannot be phony? You must truly believe it, want it for them, and walk the talk. I call it ASSUME ABILITY.
Your job as a business leader is to ignite the passion in others and inspire them to share the talent that lies buried inside.
To lead, first you must inspire
In one of my former companies, many of my warehouse men were uneducated by any western standards. They were Samoan, Tongan, Mexican and very recently new to America. In the complex world of airfreight routing and trucking, they became the hottest teams at LAX international airport. We gave them the confidence to learn, that is easy and fun and that I knew that they were smart. They proved me right time and time again.
The point is…the data is secondary. If you want to lead, you must first inspire. That comes from delivering your message from a pint of view of passion.
I have colleagues who are some of the finest innovators and implementers of the latest accelerated learning methodologies, the use of right brain and left brain learning multiple intelligence’s, the use of NLP, games and challenges. They maintain that with those techniques an average teacher can become great by simply following the techniques. That may be true, however I maintain that a person of passion and inspiration will touch and motivate a student or worker for the rest of their lives!
By passion, I mean that which is a glowing ember inside of you – waiting to burst into flaming passion. Most great leaders have a strong sense of righting some wrong, rebalancing the scales of justice, lifting the underdog. They are antagonised and even angered by wrong doing in the market place, in society, in schools or in the minds of humans. You must ask yourself, what is my passion? What would you be willing to draw a line in the sand about? What do you feel so strongly about that the blood begins to boil and the pressure in your chest begins to build? Could it be an opportunity that no one else can see that you know will work? Is it simply the reward of a child finally taking their first step or reading their first word? Could it be the magic of a team of sales-people high-five-ing each other after signing a great contract? Or the smile of a healthy new born?
Whatever it is…find it and drive the passion with which you hold that vision through all that you do. For me, I have this thought that if I can simply get my students and my team to understand the concept of their own brilliance they can do and have anything they want.
Moments when people’s lives change
Everyday is a quest to reach more and more, to get them to understand the generalised principles that govern all of nature and all of human behaviour. I love when the lights go on and when the head nods slightly in understanding. I get off on watching the haze clear from the eyes to be replaced with that slightly watery look that is the subconscious finally waking up and saying aha! Those magic moments when the penny drops are the moments when people’s lives change. They may not even know it, but in the days and weeks that come, more petals of the flower open releasing more of the beauty and the fragrance of the gift that lies within.
This only happens when a person is touched and somehow inspired…never by dumping data. Your job as a business leader is to ignite the passion in others and inspire them to share the talent that lies buried inside.