Leadership Inspiration

10 Leadership Success Secrets

Business man looking towards the city.
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"Coaching isn't a great mystery. It's just hard work, determination, and inspiration at the right moment." --Bob Zuppke in The Book of Football Wisdom edited by Criswell Freeman, 1996.

"Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow." --Vince Lombardi

What makes a leader inspirational? The ability to inspire people to reach great heights of performance and success is a skill that leaders need.

Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational.

Communication, integrity, inclusion, and sensitivity to the needs of the employees round out the qualities and characteristics of an inspirational leader. 

The ability to communicate that passion, purpose, and meaning to others helps establish the inspirational culture of your organization. These points will tell you how to enable inspiration and motivation in the people that you lead.

How Leaders Instill Inspiration in the People They Lead

  • The inspirational leader feels passionate about the vision and mission of the organization. He or she is also able to share that passion in a way that enables others to feel passionate, too. Shared passion makes organizations soar in the accomplishment of their mission and vision.

    The nature of the vision and mission is critical for enabling others to feel as if their work has a purpose and meaning beyond the tasks they perform each day. Sometimes leaders have to help their staff connect the dots by explaining this big picture to all. Communicating the big picture regularly will help reinforce the reason your organization exists.
  • The inspirational leader listens to the people in her organization. Talking to people about your passion is not enough. To “share meaning” - my definition of communication - you must allow the ideas and thoughts of your staff to help form the vision and mission, or minimally, the goals and action plan.

    No one is ever one hundred percent supportive of a direction they had no part in formulating. People need to see their ideas incorporated – or understand why they were not.
  • To experience inspiration, people also need to feel included. Inclusion goes beyond the listening and feedback. For real inclusion, people need to feel intimately connected to the actions and process that are leading to the accomplishment of the goals or the decision.

    A client company canceled an annual employee event because of customer orders for their product. Many people did not like the decision, but the company had involved the whole management group, the Activity Committee members and many other employees in the discussion about whether to cancel or re-schedule the event.

    The inclusion led to a compromise that, while not perfect, still enabled a celebration and a positive motivation boost, yet allowed the company to meet customer needs. Since customer needs are paramount, and the employees agreed, the company's decision, made with employee input, also gave them nothing to push back against.
  • Important to inspiration is the integrity of the person leading. Yes, vision and passion are important, but employees must trust you to feel inspired. They must believe in your integrity and see it played out in decisions and customer and employee treatment.

    They must believe in you. Your person is as important as the direction you provide. Employees look up to a person who tells the truth, tries to do the right things, lives a good, principled life and does their best. Trust me. Your actions play out on the stage of your organization. And, your staff does boo and cheer and vote with their feet and their actions.
  • Finally, an inspirational leader gives people what they want within his capabilities. (You can’t provide a raise in pay without company profitability, as an example, but you absolutely must share the rewards if the organization is doing well.)

    The inspirational leader also understands that, while money is a motivator, so are praise, recognition, rewards, a thank you and noticing an individual’s contribution to a successful endeavor. Speaking directly to a contributing employee about the value that their work provides for the organization is a key source of inspiration for the recipient.

Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style

Much is written about what makes successful leaders. I will focus on the characteristics, traits, and actions that, I believe, are key in this series of articles.