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Without direction people get frustrated.
Good leaders provide direction and hence motivation.

They provide direction by giving inspiration to reach particular goals.
You can look for inspiration from others and provide it yourself.

Inspirational speech

The speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V is often quoted for rousing people to action:

Act III, Sc I

King Henry:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there 's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

Also, later.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England and Saint George!

In addition, you might try.


And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Without the provision of inspiration it will be harder to motivate those that are less self driven.
If people already want to do a job then motivation may not be the issue.
For those less than enthusiastic inspiration in some form may prove to be the catalyst.
Inspiration and vision casting is what leadership is all about (see The Complete Leadership package).

If you want people to follow you must be able to inspire them to reach high performance levels.

Getting inspired

Inspiration may come from speeches or it can come from past experiences.
Individuals will have experienced inspiration in many ways using it to motivate them into further action.
Some of these might have been:

  • Seeing a painting by a true master
  • Listening to a piano composition by Mozart
  • Reading a particular book when you were young
  • Hearing about a special individual
  • Witnessing a selfless act of heroism
  • Being present at a great sporting moment

The list is endless. Each of these could have motivated the individual to paint, take up the piano, write a book, strive harder at sport to become a champion or just to do their very best.

There is no reason why you can’t raise a simple question with your team.
“Tell me what inspires you?”
Followed by:
“How did it make you feel?”

Then ask what can they think of that will inspire the team?
This is where you may come across highly inspiring ideas that will transform the team’s commitment.
These may be a series of new ideas for exceptional service to customers, product modifications, dealing with other departments, giving progress reports, recognising achievement etc.

Myths and legend

People have been inspired by stories for thousands of years.
Bringing a vision to life through a story can be very powerful.
The story might involve some legendary deed or accomplishment.
In many of these stories or fables the true facts may well have been lost or the true veracity of the story may be in doubt.

Even so, the words and experiences are enough to inspire.
It doesn’t really matter if the story was true or not provided it instils feelings that inspire people to greater efforts.

Any communication of vision using specific examples is very useful.
Discuss how the team can contribute to this vision and how they will benefit.

Energy and passion

If you are inspired to achieve and you want to communicate it to others then you must do so with energy, enthusiasm and passion.

If you just present a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation with fantastic bullet points it is unlikely that you will get a standing ovation afterwards.

When people roar with approval after a speech, or stand and applaud at the end of an emotional play it is not because of the words they hear, it’s due to the passion of the speaker or the actor that instils strong feelings in the audience.

When people are truly committed to a cause it inspires great energy, creativity, action, increased performance, attracts supporters, builds team work and loyalty.

Sheep tend to follow blindly. The aims is not to recruit sheep but true supporters of your vision. This means a degree of independence encouraging challenging views and behaviours.

  • The use of energy and passion will attract the best people
  • Excitement is generated and people want to achieve
  • They want to solve problems
  • They want to develop new ways of looking at things


There are many external courses trying to inspire and bring teams together with the aim of improving motivation.
When it comes to inspiration and the need to communicate a message then passion and feeling are important.
A drama based training session could be very valuable in this area.
This is because actors have to communicate with sincerity all of the time otherwise the performance is not believable.
Drama based training can help to release and focus feelings.

There is no reason that communication of an important announcement couldn’t be done by a stage performance.
It is only limited by your own imagination.

Organisational values

Many people will be inspired by what you and the organisation stands for.
Is it a non profit organisation working for a charitable cause?
Does the company have strong green values?
Does it take a strong stance on equality?

This sort of inspiration only lasts as long as the organisation supports them by their actions.
Once trust is lost any thoughts of inspiration soon follow.

Values include other areas, for example, how people work together and whether a non blame culture exists.

As a team you might want to write down a value statement following suitable discussion.