Fairytale, fable, fake, facile, fallacy, foolish, fluff, & of course, WTF?? Just some of the "F" words that passed the lips of friends and colleagues when I was seeking my own inspiration for this piece.
We seem to be living in a world where words speak louder than actions. And nowhere is this truer than in the workplace. Employers view inspirational leaders as being those who are both seen and heard. In some workplaces, the way in which a Sales Meeting is conducted can be more important than the results that are generated. At a time when employees are being asked to do more with less, "talking the talk" is seen as being more inspiring than "walking the walk". What has happened to leaders who "walk the talk"?
When we consider the meaning of inspiration, we think of words and phrases associated with the masculine or yang signs of the zodiac. Words like "arouse", phrases like "sudden intuition", "divine guidance". Fire and Air are extroverted- we see it, we hear it, we notice it.
Consider now the prefix "in". Another definition of inspiration is the action of inhalation, drawing air and life into every crevice of the body. Largely unconscious, instinctive and by nature introverted. This is the inspirational energy of the yin or feminine signs. This is Earth and Water.
Whilst they may not make the noise of Fire and Air, leaders with strong earth and water in their charts are able to take the activity generated by the yang signs and nourish it, analyse it, engage with it, stabilise it and make it reality- in every crevice of the business.
Fire and Air needs space, freedom and a level of detachment to stimulate thought and action. Without the practicality of Earth and the emotional connectivity of Water, inspiration remains a concept. Conversely, no matter how well goals are set and employees engaged, without the spark and motivation of Fire and Air, forward progress will not be made.
Business needs to recognise and reward both the yin and yang of leadership styles. A combination of elements gives us leaders who can not only inspire, but who can also "walk the talk". And that has to be a good thing.