Imagination and Discovery

What Makes an Inspired Leader?

Inspire (in-ˈspī(-ə)r):

– to influence, move, guide, stimulate, motivate, encourage, influence, or energize

What sort of qualities might make one be described as an inspirational leader? And how might we become a leader that inspires others to do their best? The words move, guide, motivate, encourage, should be leadership actions that all managers aspire to, yet how many inspired leaders have you experienced?

To start on the path to being an inspired leader it helps to become self aware, aware of how you are perceived by others, and aware of what motivates you and your colleagues to excel. When cultivating self awareness one is also cultivating honesty and integrity, for we are honestly examining our values, our actions, our behaviors. There are many useful approaches to cultivating self awareness. The Myers-Briggs system is widely used, and quite useful in understanding our personality type, as well as our colleagues’. The Belbin Assessment can lead to great insights about how we work together in teams. In this system not only do you self-evaluate, but you also ask your colleagues to assess you anonymously, making it easy to compare your self perception to your colleagues’ perceptions. The Clifton Strengths Finder, takes another approach by helping us discover our unique powerful qualities that we can build upon. And of course there are many forms of meditation and reflection we can do on our own to discover our values and examine what motivates us. All of these can help increase our self awareness and come to understand what motivates us. Self awareness is a quality that we can always develop further, and it improves the quality of life in all its dimensions. What might you discover through increased self awareness?

Once we have cultivated self awareness, how can we gain the trust and respect of our colleagues? Trust is crucial, for can we effectively lead if we are not seen as trustworthy? Trust is built over time, through honesty, integrity and respect for others. It is built by listening to others, valuing their ideas and efforts. It is built by putting people into situations in which they can succeed. Trust is build when others see that we are working as diligently as we ask others to work. Trust is built through consistent behavior, and transparency in our decisions. Do you have the complete trust of your team?

GrowthIf we have self awareness, and are trustworthy, how can we cultivate a vision that will inspire others to their highest potential? That vision must be shared, meaning that it is not only our vision, but one in which our team has contributed and crafted together. The vision must be clear and concise, with achievable outcomes that will result in the success of the organization. That vision should motivate all the actions around our goal, and elicit creative excitement from the entire team. What is your powerful vision as a leader?

These three components, self awareness, trust, and vision, are fundamental qualities found in effective and inspirational leaders. Leaders may come to embody many other exceptional dimensions, but these three will be at their core, providing them the power to inspire, guide, stimulate, motivate, encourage, influence, and energize.