You’re prepping your team for an upcoming project and you know you need the best ideas on the table. But when you try to get up the motivation to work on the project, you struggle to focus. You just don’t seem to have the same energy for the project as you usually do. How can you get the best ideas and productivity out of your team when you, their leader, are feeling uninspired, and perhaps even unmotivated?
Cheri Torres, business leadership coach and the author of Conversations Worth Having, says good leaders don’t have to be cheerleaders. “Sometimes we feel like we have to be the cheerleader, that our energy is what is contagious. This is a focus that says, ‘It’s all about me’,” says Torres. The pressure that comes from feeling like you need to be the team cheerleader can make it even harder to emerge from your slump.
Next time you find yourself uninspired to inspire, try having these conversations with yourself and your team first:
Ask yourself some “dig deep” questions
To get inspired, you need to be in a physical, mental, and emotional state that generates inspiration. Begin by checking in with your physical state. Are you eating well? Are you getting enough sleep? “Sometimes the body is what is impacting energy and inspiration,” says Torres.
Next, check in with your mental self. What are you ruminating about? What is your inner dialogue like? Keeping a journal of your thoughts can help you uncover how you are speaking to yourself. If your mind is full of negative self-talk, it’s no doubt you’re feeling uninspired.
Lastly, check in with your emotional state. Is there something that is going on in your personal life that is preventing you from being inspired at work?
Have the vulnerable conversation
Leaders often feel that they need to have all the answers, but it’s important to remind your team that you are human, too. Don’t be afraid to tell your team that you are having a tough time getting inspired at the moment and ask for their help. “The most effective leaders are those that have the courage to be vulnerable,” says Torres. Showing vulnerability helps to facilitate trust and mutual respect, which are a good foundation for collaboration and connection–exactly the traits required for a productive brainstorming session.
Avoid negative talk
“If all the conversations are about problems, trying to fix what’s wrong and focused on negative outcomes, no wonder you’re uninspired,” says Torres. Instead of talking about what you don’t want the outcome to be, focus conversations on what you do want and the positive outcomes you will have. It’s easier to discover the path to achieve those goals if you speak using positive language, rather than giving in to negativity.
Ask your team what they need
Leaders often misunderstand what their team needs in order to get inspired to action. Ask team members what is currently inspiring them, and what they would need to happen to help inspire them further. Do they need to step away from the desk and have some fun for a few hours to get their creative juices flowing? Or do they need a better understanding of the goals of the project?
Make time for joy
Schedule something in your calendar that brings you joy and invite your team to do the same. It could be going out for lunch, spending the afternoon playing laser tag, or even simply taking off a little early to enjoy a good book. The point is to do anything that increases your positive emotions and brings you joy. “Positive emotions are correlated with a biochemical soup that increases energy, connection, motivation, and inspiration,” says Torres.
Give yourself and your team a purpose
To reignite your inspiration, turn to your “why.” Try to remember why you do what you do in the first place. Review some positive customer testimonials, remember your “why,” and share this with your team.