Let me start by dispelling a common misconception that . . . . a job title does not make a leader inspirational. Also many senior leaders expect employees to follow them because of their title, their company ownership, or their place in the organization’s hierarchy. And many employees do follow a leader for these reasons. However, all these do not mean the leader inspires their best work, support and contribution.
Rather, it’s the ability to drive people to reach great heights of performance and success and to demonstrate the qualities employees will follow by choice—passion, purpose, listening and giving meaning to their role.
Inspirational Leadership Is NOT A Style Of Leadership Per Se
According to research, an inspiring leader can effectively use a variety of leadership styles depending on the scenario at hand without ever losing sight of the inspirational part of their approach. It all comes down to employing the appropriate approaches at the appropriate moment, as well as taking into consideration the needs and motivations of those you are leading.
In other circumstances, the very directed approach will be exactly what is required, and it will be this approach that will serve as the inspiration for your reports. Depending on the situation, a less directed approach may be required, in which staff are encouraged to take the initiative and push for change themselves.
INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP, AT ITS CORE, is about finding ways to enhance the potential of those you lead in a way that works for them, and inspiring others to push themselves, achieve more and reach that potential. The methods by which this is done will vary from person to person, and business to business, but the outcome is always the same – people developing a greater confidence in what they can do, and applying this confidence in a way that benefits the organisation they work for.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to being an inspirational leader
If what you advocate doesn’t truly align with your personal values, then you will always struggle to inspire and motivate those around you. As highlighted previously, one of the key components of being an inspirational leader is a strong conviction in your values, and unless you live in accordance with these on a daily basis, and continually inspire yourself to strive for bigger and better things, you will never achieve true inspirational leader status.
COMMON TRAITS OF INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to being an inspirational leader, there are a few key traits that tend to apply across all those considered inspirational, and perhaps unsurprisingly these traits have nothing to do with background, education, intelligence or wealth.
An inspirational leader does not just tell employees they are deeply committed to their clients’ experience. The leader must demonstrate this commitment and passion in every meeting, presentation, and in how they handle customer problems. The leader’s behavior must inspire employees to act in the same way.
The traits that make someone an inspirational leader are far more powerful.
What are the key traits of inspirational leaders?
Self-inspiration – Developing the skills to be an inspirational leader of others is a highly beneficial from an organisational perspective; however it is equally important for leaders to also inspire themselves.
THEY ARE AUTHENTIC – Authenticity is essential for inspirational leaders because it serves as the foundation for respect. Even those who do not agree with your message will show respect if they see that it is driven by principles and is completely in line with what you stand for.
Leaders that constantly adjust their message to cater to the whims of their followers are those who fail to inspire or generate respect. However, while achieving authenticity as a leader is one of the most important qualities, it also necessitates a number of other abilities and traits from this list., it also require several other skills and traits within this list in order to do so.
THEY ARE PASSIONATE – The inspiring leader is enthusiastic about the organization’s vision and mission. They can also communicate their enthusiasm in a way that inspires others to do the same. Shared passion propels organisations to achieve their goal and vision. It is lot simpler to be your real self and inspire those around you if you are attempting to do it in an area about which you are sincerely enthusiastic.
THEY ARE GOOD LISTENERS – Listening is an important element of communication. Leaders should make themselves available to staff on a frequent basis to discuss issues and concerns. The inspiring leader pays attention to the individuals in their organisation. Talking about your passion with others isn’t enough. To share meaning—a favoured and meaningful definition of communication—you must let your staff’s ideas and thoughts to help shape the vision and purpose, or, at the very least, the goals and action plan. No one is ever completely supportive of a course of action in which they had no say. People want to see their ideas implemented—or to understand why they weren’t.
THEY ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE – While it is not necessary that you know everything in order to be an inspiration to others, you do need a level of understanding in your field in order to exhibit credibility.
People will not be able to trust what you say if this is not present, and trust is another important component in inspiring others.
THEY ARE INCLUSIVE – To experience inspiration, people need to feel included. Inclusion goes beyond the realm of listening and providing feedback. For real inclusion, people need to feel intimately connected to the actions and processes leading to the accomplishment of the goals or the final decision.
THEY ENGAGE PEOPLE – Engagement as an inspirational leader isn’t only about being engaged with your area of expertise or your particular passion, but also being engaged with those you lead. This means taking the time to listen to the views of others, spend time to understand their concerns, and engaging with them on a personal level.
THEY ARE PERSONABLE – The most inspirational people tend to be the ones we connect with on a personal level; sharing similar values and passions with those you lead is essential, but if you then combine this with an unpleasant approach to interacting with others, this will weaken your influence considerably.
Developing a strong rapport with others, alongside viewing and treating them as important and valuable human beings, is hugely important in becoming an inspiring leader.THEY HAVE SELF-AWARENESS – Highly effective inspirational leaders are not just aware of what their followers appreciate, but are also committed to growing their own self-awareness. Understanding who you are, what motivates and inspires you, and having a clear set of underlying principles that will guide you; and then living according to these, is the pinnacle of being an inspirational leader, and this can only be achieved via self-awareness.
THEY GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT – An inspirational leader gives people what they want within their capabilities.For example, you can’t provide a pay rise if the company is not reaching profit goals. But you must share the rewards if the organization is doing well.
THEY ARE RESILIENT – It is not simple to be a leader. Some individuals will defy or detest you; plans will go awry, and things will get difficult. The key to being a great leader is learning to overcome these problems, but the key to being an inspirational leader is also learning and growing from them, and using your experiences to inform and help others on their journey. As a result, resilience is an important skill to acquire and grow as a leader.
THEY ARE MOTIVATORS – Leaders must motivate their staff to go above and beyond for their organisations; simply offering a fair wage is rarely enough motivation (although it is important too). You can inspire your employees in a variety of methods, including building employee self-esteem through recognition and prizes, or giving staff additional duties to boost their interest in the firm.
THEY DELEGATE – Leaders who attempt to take on too many things on their own will struggle to complete anything. These leaders frequently believe that delegation is a sign of weakness, while in fact it can be a sign of a strong leader.
As a result, you must identify each employee’s skills and assign assignments to each employee depending on his or her skill set. You can focus on other vital activities by delegating responsibilities to staff employees.
We Can All Be Inspirational Leaders
As the list above shows, there is nothing inherently different about inspirational leaders; they’ve simply developed some valuable skills that help them connect with and inspire others. These are skills we can all develop, and may already have within us – so whether you think you currently are an inspirational leader, everyone has the potential to be.
THE INSPIRATIONAL LEADER also understands that, while money is a motivator, so are praise, recognition, rewards, saying thank you, and noticing an individual’s contribution to a successful endeavor. Speaking directly to a contributing employee about the value their work provides for the organization is a key source of inspiration for the recipient. The actions you take every day at work are powerful.
So, How Can You Build Leadership Skills?
You do not need to supervise or be a manager to cultivate leadership skills. You can develop these skills on the job in the following ways:
- Take initiative: Look beyond the responsibilities listed in your job description. Consider what is best for your department and the firm in the long run. Try to come up with new ideas and commit to producing work that goes above and beyond the daily grind.
- Request more responsibility: While you shouldn’t ask for more responsibility in your second week on the job, if you’ve been in a position long enough to become an expert, you can tell your boss that you’re keen to develop your leadership skills. Inquire about how you can assist—are there any future projects that require a point person? Is there anything you can delegate from your manager’s to-do list?
- Target specific skills: If you want to enhance a certain talent, such as creative thinking or communication, make a plan to improve your abilities in that area. This could include attending a class, seeking assistance from a mentor, reading books, or creating a small objective that forces you to acquire this talent. Talk to your bosses and coworkers, as well as friends outside of the office, to help you establish an improvement strategy.
REMEMBER that everybody has the capacity to be an inspirational leader, but it is not something that everyone is born with. Awareness is the key to inspirational leadership — both self-awareness and awareness of people around you. You can’t inspire others unless you first inspire yourself, which means identifying what motivates you and using that as a springboard to inspire others.
Of all, the primary objective of a leader is to lead others, so while self-awareness is important, you must also be aware of what others find inspirational; what drives your employees?