|Charity Leaders’ Exchange|
This week, as invited by Charity Leaders’ Exchange member Jo Youle, I ran a session on social media for charity leaders at Missing People’s leadership away day. The session before mine closed with a discussion about people with inspiring communication styles. It got me thinking more of who has inspired me in my life, how I can try to inspire others and what inspiration means.
I wrote a blog post last year called ‘The three people who have inspired me most in my life’. The three I chose were pretty varied- an educator, a small charity leader and a personal friend who has lived life on his own terms. One of the biggest pleasures for me of working in and around the charity sector is that I meet people and hear of causes that inspire me almost every day. One of the strengths of the CLE is that we bring people together at events whose paths might not otherwise cross but who benefit greatly from being able to discuss common issues.
When looking for inspiration we don’t need to restrict ourselves to our own sector. Growing up, despite having humanities-based academic leanings myself, my heroes were scientists (like Robert Winston) who had the ability to distil complex ideas into a fashion that the general public could understand and be interested in. Continuing this theme, as a fan of wine I am particularly inspired by wine critics who manage to demystify and popularize wine knowledge.
Who inspires you? How do you apply the lessons they teach you to be a more effective leader yourself? Of course, inspiration doesn’t only need to come from figures in the public eye. We can be inspired by our colleagues, the beneficiaries of our charity and our friends. We can even, for example, be inspired by fictional characters- see my own, slightly unusual example here for World Book Day.
As well as being inspired by others, how do you inspire people in your turn? Is inspiring your staff team or volunteer team an explicit priority, or something that you hope will just happen naturally? With a busy workload as a charity do you find you even allow time for inspiration and fresh thinking? Perhaps, you manage to inspire the general public to donate, spread the word and support your cause. Perhaps you mentor someone or have set up clear learning pathways for new recruits to your organisation so that they constantly feel inspired and part of something bigger than themselves.
The process of how we become inspired and inspire others in our turn is not always something that is easy to understand. But if we want to be better leaders I think it is something very much worth spending time considering.