Many leaders can execute the basic mechanics of running a business.  But the ones we admire most and who achieve great things have mastered the art of inspiration.

These leaders inspire themselves and others by thinking and behaving on a different level to generate enthusiasm, commitment, and loyalty.  They utilize a combination of winning ideas, positive mindsets, and consistent habits to get others engaged and move things forward.

So what exactly does that look like?

Here are 5 keys to being a more inspirational leader:

1)  Have a clear, hopeful, and meaningful aspiration for the future

Communicating a powerful vision for the future is essential.   The vision must convey a sense of urgency and paint a picture of a brighter tomorrow.

Inspirational leaders know how to draw out the imagination of followers with vivid images of what success looks like and why achieving these aspirations will make life better.

Show how your outlined vision and goals can link directly to a positive impact on your followers personally.

While showing the big picture and the impact on the greater good is important, you’ll have a more passionate following when you show how it relates to their biggest dreams and concerns.

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2)  Convey energy, passion, and optimism

People look to leadership for clues about how to think and behave.  If you can’t show consistent enthusiasm and trust in your vision and display it in an energetic and passionate way, it will be hard to get others to believe in it too.

Keep in mind that as a leader, people are always watching.

While it’s ok to show some occasional frustration or impatience, you’ll need to keep stoking your own fire in the belly for what you are doing.

If you have some doubts or temporary set backs, try to keep as much of that as possible to yourself or to a limited circle of trusted advisors. Take a quick time out to recalibrate your mindset and get your beliefs back on track.


3)  Role model the highest ethical standards

The quickest way to dilute trust and loyalty is by saying and doing things that don’t demonstrate the utmost integrity.  While you may be able to skate by some standards in the short-term, it will most likely come out in the long-run.   Business and politics are full of examples of leaders who eventually were caught doing or saying things that hugely impacted their credibility and in many cases led to their professional downfall.

As a leader, you are naturally held to a higher standard by those that follow you.

If you want to be inspirational, others must see you as someone to look up to in terms of how to behave.

This means that you must embrace the qualities of honesty, respect for others, fairness, humility, reliability, compassion, transparency, etc. and display these values consistently no matter the situation or people involved.  Your strong character needs to shine through under all circumstances, not just when it’s convenient or in public.


4)  Show that you care about people, not just the bottom line

Businesses are full of leaders that can drive results, but sometimes at too high a cost.

Inspirational leaders convey a feeling of care and concern for their people, not just the vision or cause itself.

Back up your words with how you treat people in day-to-day interactions as well as in the policies and programs you put in place.

Demonstrate how each person is an essential part of accomplishing the vision.  Help people see that they have an important role and that you appreciate their contributions. 


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5)  Express your confidence and belief in people and their abilities

At the end of day, the leaders that are the most inspirational are those that help us believe more in ourselves.    When you paint a picture of what’s possible for each person, you help motivate them to do their very best.

Create an environment where people feel safe to be themselves, take reasonable risks, and innovate.  Encourage new ideas and thinking outside of the box.  Show your trust in people by giving them latitude in their work and offering as many new opportunities to grow and learn as possible. 

DIVE DEEPER:  Boost your confidence and self-perspective as a leader by mastering how you think about your life story here.

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