There are few things more important to effective leadership than the ability to inspire.
While there are plenty of bosses out there worthy of admiration, there are only a handful of leaders who can drive energy and passion from the people around them.
Coupled with a strong vision, a commitment to integrity, and a powerful set of morals, inspiring leaders have the power to change the world. You just need to look at innovators like Michelle Obama, Elon Musk and Richard Branson to see this for yourself.
Harvard Business School also discovered that the ability to inspire is the factor that creates the highest levels of employee commitment and engagement. Elsewhere, additional research found that inspired employees are twice as productive as their satisfied counterparts, driving 59% less turnover, 21% better productivity, and a 41% drop in absenteeism.
So, what makes a leader inspiring?
The following characteristics are crucial:
1. Commitment to Values
Inspirational leaders have a profound sense of purpose. It’s this focus and direction that helps them to continue moving forward on the path to positive change.
If you’re an inspirational leader, you’ll know what values you want to stand for, and you’ll ensure that you’ll never cave under the pressure to change. This might mean that you don’t always get along with your peers.
Being focused and ethical isn’t always easy, but inspirational leaders will always stand up for what they believe is right and fight against injustice. Leaders must act with integrity if they’re going to inspire anyone.
After all, people will always be watching the leaders of the world for evidence that they embody the principles they stand for.
2. A Passion for Growth
Leaders know that there’s always room for improvement. That’s why many of the best leaders have a passion for constant learning and development. They’re aware of their weaknesses and they look for ways to transform them into strengths by listening to others.
Good leaders are always expanding and growing, interacting with people who can help them to get better.
What’s more, a great leader also can encourage growth in others. Inspirational leaders give the people around them opportunities to learn and grow too. This could mean giving employees access to classes and educational tools. It could even be as simple as curating and sharing good content on social media.
3. Absolute Authenticity
Great leaders connect with others. They can create connections because they’re open about their strengths and struggles. They can relate to the journeys that others go through, and they’re happy to discuss the realities of what it took for them to achieve their goals. Inspirational leaders are authentic and real.
According to Ethan Taub, the CEO of Loanry and Goalry, being a good leader means having the strength to admit that you’re different and be proud of that fact. It takes courage to think outside of the box, and leaders can do that with absolute honesty.
It’s also this authenticity that allows leaders to open themselves up to risks and new experiences.
When something goes wrong in a leader’s plan, they recognize the problem, and learn from the mistake.
4. Incredible Communication
Communication is crucial for any leader to be inspirational. How can you motivate someone to accomplish great things if you don’t speak their language?
Notably, not all communication is verbal. Leaders need to be able to connect with others in a range of different ways, from interactions over video conferencing, to written messages, to body language.
They know how their stance and facial expression can bring context into a conversation. Inspirational leaders use body language to put others at ease.
What’s more, when having complex conversations about negative things, a good leader doesn’t focus on the bad things, they offer advice on how to improve.
5. Focus on Inclusivity
Finally, an inspirational leader is friendly, inclusive, and pleasant. Great leaders aren’t the bosses who use fear and panic to drive results. Instead, effective leaders focus on cultivating an environment where people can explore their ideas and let their creativity shine through.
Good leaders don’t just know how to speak, they also know when to listen.
An inspirational leader will welcome mistakes as an opportunity to learn and reward originality among team members.
Good leaders also know how to value diversity and support a wide range of working styles. True inspiration in any environment thrives when people feel part of a supported community. A leader knows how to take a team of unique people and turn them into a family.
A leader who cultivates a warm, open, and welcoming environment opens the door to innovation.
Do you have what it takes to be an inspirational leader?
Shailesh Thakkar has trained 4,000+ professionals in Agile Fundamentals; various Agile/Scaled Agile methods – Scrum, Kanban, XP, and SAFe; Agile Coaching and Facilitation; Enterprise Coaching and Agile Transformation, DevOps Transformation, Agile Leadership, Business Agility, Agile Change Management, Servant Leadership, and Emotional Intelligence . He has provided Agile coaching and consulting services for Walmart, Allstate, ExxonMobil, Medline, Bank of America, AIG, Deloitte, UST Global, and other mid-sized organizations.
He is a creator and trainer of the World’s first and only:
“Master’s Certificate in Agile Management” (MCAM) from Chicago State University (CSU) – 75 hours of training
“Advanced Certificate in Agile Management” (AMCAM) from Chicago State University (CSU) – 150 hours of training
“Expert Certificate in Agile Management (ECAM) from Chicago State University (CSU) – 225 hours of extensive training
Shailesh earned his MS in Project Management from the George Washington University (GWU). He is also a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and a Board Certified Coach (BCC). He is a recipient of more than 225+ certificates in wide-ranging fields.
Shailesh is a Vice President and Chief Agilist at Agility4All, Inc – An agile training, coaching, and consulting company.