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Becoming an inspirational leader

by Eve Ash

07 March 2011

When you lead others you need to inspire them - but how do you do this? What are the behaviours, attitudes and strategies of truly inspirational leaders?

I always think of inspiring leaders as those people who consistently succeed and achieve results. But let's dig deeper to look at some particular behavours and strategies.

Whilst producing a video series on best practice I was fortunate to interview and observe interviewed two inspirational CEOs - Jude Munro (former CEO Brisbane City Council) and Glenyce Johnson (CEO Peregrine Adventures). I watched how they worked and interacted with their people.

Here are six simple yet effective strategies common to both of them:

Lead by Example

Inspiring leaders are usually in a positive mood with lots of energy, and this is contagious. They keep themselves physically energised by riding or walking, or going to the gym. They keep mentally and physically healthy. For me and many other leaders, when it comes to exercise I need a buddy or coach! Some leaders have a mentor or someone external to the business who helps them stay on track! They look after themselves so they are in the best state to lead by example.

Project Your Passion

A leader who is fully committed and passionate makes others feel likewise. Often being courageous, jumping at challenges, taking risks, responding with enthusiasm to others ideas - these are the things that show passion. Passion shows in tone of voice and body language, even in the way people write and tell stories. When people see and feel it they become passionate.

Drive Your Decisions

Leaders need to be decisive, not hanging back and paralysed by indecision. They know when and how to involve others in decisions, and can facilitate an open brain-storming. They know the key outcomes and what is best for their business; their staff and the future... and they make those decisions with strength and clarity. They have the courage to assess a risk and decide the best course of action, even if it doesn't suit everyone. They defend their decisions well, with fact not emotion.

Empower Your Champions

It's exciting to empower other people with new challenges. A great leader knows how to nurture their staff and give them the opportunities to grow. They see the potential in their people and offer the ways to develop and build new skills. They find those enthusiastic staff, empower them and then keep them challenged and motivated.

Reach Your Goals

Inspirational leaders set goals and provide a clear strategy that everyone can understand and follow. They involve others and provide support and resources, clearing obstacles and solving problems that create delays. They have resilience to stick it out over time because they are results driven, yet they will care about their people along the way... so its not just results at the expense of others.

Give Time and Respect to Your People

Great leaders make the time to get to know their people and involve them in what's going on. They make sure communication is open and processes in place to hear when things are not going right- not just with lip service to the phrase \"open door\" policy. They know who's who and what's going on around the business. Some create a 'family feeling' where they make people feel important and give them credit for ideas and suggestions. They consistently acknowledge and respect their people.

If you lead others - can you say a BIG YES to these questions?

1. Lead by example?

2. Project your passion?

3. Drive your decisions?

4. Reach your goals?

5. Empower champions?

6. Give time and respect to your people?