If you’re a great leader, you probably have a team that dreams big. A team that is inspired. That’s because the messages you’re sending every day in multiple ways fuel the motivation to keep reaching higher and more audaciously.
What makes these leaders so effective? Inspirational messages like these.
1. They answer the question, “Why do we exist?”
John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, inspires his staff through a clear purpose: to improve the health and well-being of people and the planet. Notice that it’s not simply selling food. Employees are encouraged to draw upon the values that resonates most with them, and express those values in their work. It’s an inspirational message that works.
Southwest Airlines, led by chairman/CEO Gary Kelly, connects people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. A trip on Southwest is valued for being the means to an end (your important values), thus linking it to something bigger and more personal than the service it provides.
Make it yours: Can your team answer the question, “Why do we exist?” Is your purpose merely words on a mission statement—or tied into everything you do?
2. They spur innovation by investing in their people
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page established “20% time” to encourage employees to spend a fifth of their time on independent projects. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner,” they said in their 2004 IPO letter, mentioning AdSense and Google News. “Most risky projects fizzle, often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses.”
One day a week is a lot, and it shows how much Google values the space to tinker and to challenge conventional wisdom, which is the heart of innovation.
Make it yours: A great leader inspires their team to have confidence in themselves. As Brin says, “I would like to see anyone be able to achieve their dreams, and that’s what this organization does.”
3. They create shared history through unique stories.
Nike’s Innovation Kitchen is a 1972 Winnebago that allows team members to go back in time, when cofounder Phil Knight first sold shoes out of the back of an RV. The Nike campus also displays the waffle iron that Knight’s cofounder Bill Bowerman used in the 1970s to make rubber soles.
Telling the story that only you can tell has a wonderful glow and sense of purpose for those who are carrying on the story. Your authentic story makes them feel part of something that is truly special. This is the essence of pride, and it shows at Nike. Retention is so high that unless you have more than 10 years there, you’re considered a rookie.
Make it yours: Does your team know their roots? Your history can be a source of great energy and inspiration. Bowerman said this to his runners and it’s true about your most resonant inspirational message: “Everything you need is already inside.”
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Inspirational messages tap the past to inform the present and create aspirations for the future. A great leader strives to plant and nurture seeds of inspiration in team members, by establishing purpose, investing in them and casting them as characters in an authentic, unique story.
Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.