YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 51
“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation not intimidation”
William Arthur Wood (An earthenware manufacturer)
Who has quietly inspired you recently?
You may have seen a story (click here if you haven’t) about Buster Martin, a man who celebrated his 100th birthday at work, having worked almost every day of his life since the age of ten. There’s an inspiration for others. Or you may have seen the deeply uninspiring leadership debate in the UK Government (Please click here to read it). These and recent events in my life led me to reflect on the whole issue of inspiration.
Riding my bike around my favourite lake, letting my mind ramble, I concluded that to inspire others (to encourage people into greater efforts or greater enthusiasm or creativity) is the crux of creative leadership, something which appears to be sadly lacking in much of the world’s political leadership.
How might we inspire others? What do you think?
It’s not difficult to recognise two ways; one is to be expressive, using inspiring words, (e.g. Henry V to his men at Harfleur courtesy of Shakespeare, , or Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech titled “I Have a Dream”).
The other is through behaviour, e.g. the expressive behaviour of the football team captain, inspiring his team by fighting for every ball, his energy infecting others.
As I rode I decided that words can only truly inspire if one has demonstrated through behaviour that our words can be trusted (in a recent poll 25% of people thought Britain a worse place to live because of cynical politicians).
I also thought about those people who don’t overtly inspire others, but inspire through their tacit, rather than expressive, behaviour. The person at work who keeps delivering the work without fuss, the charity volunteers working without publicity, the person with serious illness who bears it stoically.
They may not consider themselves creative leaders; they may not inspire great numbers of people, perhaps only one person who has taken the time to notice, but in their small way, they are helping the cause of creative leadership. Perhaps we can call this behaviour “quiet leadership.” (If you have a better name for it, let me know ~ firstname.lastname@example.org).
Creative Leadership does not have to be about rousing speeches and overt behaviour. By doing something well, something right and something ethically correct, we might just inspire another person and lead them to greater things.
Who is quietly inspiring you?
Think about someone who has quietly inspired you in the past. Did you tell them? Or is someone a source of quiet inspiration for you right now. Have you told them? If you have the opportunity to do it, tell them before the opportunity passes.
If you are a Creative Leader, look around your group. Who are those “quiet leaders”? How might you recognise their contribution?
If you are a “quiet leader” have faith, the chances are that somebody has noticed, they just haven’t told you yet.
Even litter bugs can inspire. Last weekend, riding my bike through the woods I came to a make shift “bridge”, a tree trunk cut in half lengthways across a dried out stream. Rather than risk cycling across I decided to “walk” across, straddling the crossbar of my bike. Mistake. Halfway across I unbalanced and fell heavily on to my side, my head hitting the ground an inch from an old car jack.
Whoever left it there was no leader, but they inspired me to make sure I wear my helmet all the time, even if it means losing that “wind in the receding hair” feeling.
May you inspire someone this week…
John Brooker I Facilitate, Innovate, Transform.
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