According to an IBM study of 1,700 CEOs in 64 countries, one of the top three qualities a leader can possess is the ability to inspire people to action. Employees who work for an inspirational leader are enthused, encouraged, energized, motivated, engaged, and appreciated. They believe that what they do matters, that they’re making a difference. It’s also an area where many leaders have room to improve.
Motivational leaders push you to do more, but inspirational leaders pull your best out of you.
Motivation and inspiration are both important, but they’re also very different. Motivation often feels like someone is pushing you. Inspirational leaders help you find more of what’s good inside you.
Inspirational leaders come in all shapes and styles. The ability to inspire is not a gift you’re born with. It’s a skill you can learn. Inspirational leaders are made, not born. When you become more self-aware, you can discover your own approach, and how you are uniquely wired to inspire. You can improve those inspirational qualities you may not even know you have.
Research by the Bain Company revealed that there are 33 main traits that inspirational leaders have. You’d be hard-pressed to find a leader who has all 33 traits, but these 33 were the most consistently mentioned traits when they surveyed 2,000 employees and asked them what makes for an inspiring leader. Here are some paraphrased versions of just a few of those traits: emotional expression, positive attitude, keeping your word, appreciating your team, leading with humility, expressing empathy, directing the team, and listening to and valuing those you lead.
You might look at that list and think you might only have one or two of those strengths. Don’t be discouraged. Here’s what the research also showed: All you need is one or two well-developed strengths to inspire people. So, identify your top three inspirational traits!
Here are my top three inspirational traits:
- Consistency: Over two decades, I’ve worked consistently and delivered consistently.
- Focus: I attack until it’s done, I’m not easily distracted, and I don’t give up.
- Empowerment: I believe in people, extend them trust, help them soar, and cheer them on.
These are not things I do occasionally. They’re things I do consistently. That’s why they inspire people.
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Now, there is one quality that matters more than all the others: centeredness.
It’s leading from a state of assuredness. It’s good internal alignment, being guided by values, driven by purpose, and obsessed by mission. It’s not chasing a competitor, it’s living a calling. It’s not trying to prove something, it’s living from a heart of passion.
When you’re centered, you know clearly what you are trying to accomplish. You care about the people around you. You live without hypocrisy. You don’t need to inspire with speeches. You don’t have to have a title. You don’t have to be a gifted speaker. Your very presence—who you are—inspires!
Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader! Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.
This post was originally feature in Life.Church. All rights reserved.