If you were asked to describe the attributes which sum up your organisation, how high would inspiration appear on the list, if it appeared at all? In fact, if inspiration didn’t appear on your initial list I wouldn’t be at all surprised and yet inspiration sits at the heart of business success.
Just think about it for a moment. When we talk about employee engagement, we look to inspire our people to take the organisation’s vision and values into their own belief and behaviour set. When we talk about strong company culture, particularly innovation culture, we are looking to create the conditions in which inspirational ideas can flourish leading to the delivery of game changing solutions. Even when we look at marketing, the aim is to deliver campaigns which will catch the imagination and inspire potential customers to look seriously at our products and services.
So why is it that when we list corporate attributes; whilst words like delivery, innovation, leadership and customer excellence float to the top, inspire is much less prevalent? Is it because it is a relatively emotive word and there is still an undercurrent of feeling within business that emotions should be left at the door, or is it simply that inspiration is seen as a product of other attitudes?
With that in mind, it was interesting to receive an announcement from UKTI to the effect that during the current Exporting is Great week (18th to 22md April), events on offer “will inspire, inform, and help you grow your business through export.” Given the impending Brexit vote the subject of international trade is very much to the fore at the moment and businesses would therefore be forgiven if their concerns were more towards practical side of exporting.
By the time that areas such as international trade treaties, UK and overseas regulations in respect of exporting, and even the way in which the country’s culture might affect the likelihood of sales are taken into account, it is easy to be wary and think of exporting as an area of business which requires in-depth research and careful consideration. It is therefore an area which may not be ideal for the fainthearted but it is also an area which can prove richly rewarding for those businesses which have been inspired to take the first steps into new market places.
If the UKTI can deliver on its ambition and inspire businesses to consider exporting, then it has a far greater chance of success than if it were to simply provide information. It’s an approach which other organisations would do well to consider. When leaders are able to inspire, then building employee engagement, delivering culture change, developing ideas all become so much easier. In effect, when you can inspire then your people are already engaged in the vision and actively looking to take on board new ideas and develop new processes which will help to grow the business and deliver customer excellence.
So when you look at your corporate attributes and in particular at those which sum up your leadership style, don’t ignore the fact that a little inspiration can go a long way. As John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”