I was reflecting on some of the leaders I have had the privilege of working with or for who showed me about the leader I aspire to be and perhaps some who showed me the leader I would rather not be. The common trait in those that inspired me was their belief in those they lead, their ability to recognize a skill, a strength or a natural talent and to allow it to shine, to nurture, grow and evolve.
The most inspiring leaders I have met have a genuine interest in people and in learning more about them. They have the confidence to understand they are not great at everything and the strength of character to recruit a team around them skilled in the areas they are not. I learned a long time ago to hire people experienced in areas where you need to develop and who need to develop in areas where you are skilled. That way, the sum of the parts is greater than the individual elements, and you all end up stronger, and together you can achieve so much more.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is to believe in someone and give them the confidence to believe in themselves.
For those who have done this for me, I am forever grateful, and I will keep trying to pass that gift on to others. Below are my top seven traits in what makes a leader inspire me.
The genuinely inspirational leaders are fantastic storytellers who create a compelling story about their vision and the part you will play. These leaders recognize that leadership is about creating memories; winning the hearts and minds of the people you lead and inspiring them to be the very best version of themselves.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more you are a leader” — John Quincy Adams
Great Leaders encourage and empower their teams to generate new ideas or new ways of thinking. They understand that they don’t know all the answers and that by helping their people they will unlock the potential.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George Patton
They recognize their role is to encourage, empower and embolden others to be the best version of themselves. To not only teach but also to learn.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Great leaders understand that they need to do the right thing even when no one is watching, that they need to be true to their word and to own up to and learn from their mistakes.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower”
Great Leaders are Authentic
Great leaders are wholly authentic and bring their whole selves to the situation, recognizing that by doing so they are encouraging their team to do the same and to focus on the common goal, not a personal agenda.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real — the choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen” – Brene Brown.”
Great leaders have a passion for what they do, for how they do it and how they make their people feel — driven by a desire to leave things in a better place and to create more leaders.
“The best leaders not only inspire us; they develop and empower us to lead with passion from whatever position we currently hold in life” – Ty Howard.
Leave a Legacy
We all remember the most significant leader we worked for, what we learned, how they made us feel, and how they changed our lives.
Great leaders have an impact that lasts a lifetime.
“A truly great leader is hard to find, difficult to part with and impossible to forget” – Unknown
To summarize, they understand that you have to bring your whole self to work, to be you, to be human, only then can you start to lead people, create memories and leave a legacy.
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