How to Be an Inspirational Leader

May 16, 2022
Results Driven Leadership Management Training
How to Be an Inspirational Leader

When workplace teams aren’t just engaged but inspired, that’s when organizations see real breakthroughs. Inspired teams are themselves far more productive and, in turn, inspire those around them to strive for greater productivity and results.

We believe that anyone can become an inspiring leader (they’re made, not born). However, in most companies, there are far too few of them. In employer surveys, we found that 34% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that their leaders were inspiring or unlocking employee motivation. Even fewer felt that their leaders fostered engagement or commitment and modeled the culture and values of the corporation.

Instead, inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.

In this Blog are some of the best practices and secrets for how leaders both inspire and get great performance.

Want to Become a More Inspiring Leader?

First, always remember you are the key. Your team feeds off your attitude, actions, and mood. I often describe it this way as a reminder. You should imagine you are in your own documentary. You have a camera crew following and recording you all day, every day. Sure, the camera will pick up on the things you do right. More importantly, it will also expose every mistake you make. That will often be what is keyed in on and edited down to.


This is how many of your team members remember will judge you.  Your missteps will be minimized if you are being positive and fair while setting a good example through your actions. However, if you are focused only on the negative, rarely acknowledging their hard work, ignore the same policy standards you expect them to follow, and more often than not set a poor example through your actions, then the scale tips, and you have a leadership problem.


Of course, there are many different leadership styles, but certain basic skill sets must be applied if you aim to become an Inspirational Leader.

Inspirational Leaders help their team members motivate themselves to higher levels of performance. They help employees create a positive work atmosphere in which they are empowered to act positively. And they win the trust and respect of their direct reports.

Inspirational Leaders have a resilient mindset. They focus on what needs to be done to succeed. Their attitude includes an unshakeable belief that the team can find the solution. Team members feed off this type of unshakeable belief that they can make their organization succeed.

Inspirational Leaders must believe in themselves. If they don’t, employees won’t get behind them. It’s that simple. This attribute of self-belief is particularly important when the organization faces challenges.


The Seven Secrets to Becoming an Inspirational Leader


Secret #1: Know Who You Are and What You Can Do

To be an Inspirational Leader, do not start with the question, “What do I want?”

 Instead, ask, “What do I need to do?” Then ask, “What can and should I do to make a difference?”

Fight the temptation to do things that are popular rather than right. Also, resist the urge to do petty, mean, or unprofessional things.


Secret #2: Identify Goals and Values

Joseph Murphy once said, “We go where our vision is,” which sums up the importance of a shared Organization Vision. To achieve this, start by instilling an Organization’s Vision Statement in employees. Do this by reiterating the vision in as many team meetings and frequently in communications.

Similarly, clear Core Values make leadership decisions much easier. Results-Driven Managers ensure that Core Values are instilled in their organizations by citing their influence as part of each critical decision and consistently discussing them in their communications.

Use Goals to Inspire

Teams aligned to goals inspired by a leader routinely outperform their competitors. Some studies report a difference of 200% or more.


Secret #3: Understand Your Role and the Roles of Others

Inspirational Leaders recognize that employees need to understand exactly what the leader wants them to do regarding any plan of action, as well as how the leader is going to be involved, if at all. The team needs to understand what they are accountable for doing and what you are accountable for doing – which means you need to understand that and communicate it!

Making decisions in a timely manner is another particularly important part of your role. Move on when discussions are getting to a point where progress is not being made toward resolving things. Shine the focus back on the matter under discussion and make it clear that it is time to reach closure.


Secret #4: Connect with Your Employees and Make Them Feel Special

Questions like “How can we reach our goal?” and “How can you make this happen?” are fine – but they’re not enough. They are the why and the how. There will be multiple ways to realize an objective. It is your job to learn and find a way to give some emotional leverage to those working to attain your organization's goal. If you skip this step and announce the goal on the assumption that everyone is emotionally invested in it, you will likely end up regretting it!


Secret #5: Use Teams and Share Credit

It's common to assign a small number of people to work together toward a common goal, with the responsibility for success coming from the team rather than you.

Don’t try to solve your challenges all by yourself. By collaborating and creating project teams, you can draw on a broader mix of skills, experience, and know-how and gain greater power to gain success.


Secret #6: Accountability

Inspirational Leaders are self-accountable. Many struggling leaders have a morale problem because they believe they are not accountable to anyone. Inspirational Leaders Walk the Walk, Communicate Clearly, and Avoid Rash Decisions. They also earn respect as a leader by choosing their words with care.


Secret #7: Accept Occasional Conflict

Inspirational Leaders do not avoid conflict! They accept it as an occasional reality of the workplace, one that carries potential benefits for the team.

Humans are curious by nature, and your team members should express some interest in what is going on in the organization. A lack of interest is a warning signal that the team member is likely to operate at much lower levels of efficiency.

Want Be Become a More Inspirational Leader?


Checklist for Getting Them Inspired

  • How do you show appreciation? What could you do differently?
  • How often do you reward people when they least expect it?
  • Does your team have opportunities to learn and grow on a regular basis?
  • How do you give employees ownership and a sense of empowerment?
  • Do you ever modify the nature of the work when people are bored? If not, why not?
  • What do you do to give your employees something to look forward to?
  • How do you reduce or eliminate barriers to having fun?
  • What kind of role model are you?
  • What one outrageously fun thing did you do for your employees last year?
  • What makes working for you and your organization special?

About the author:

Vaughn is the co-founder of Results-Driven Leadership. He is a leadership development expert, podcaster, and author. His methods are brought from his real-world experience working on the front lines and living the role of being a high-impact leader and manager. There was no theory, just common-sense advice and direction. He is a former executive with CarMax, the world's largest and most respected company in the auto industry, and is a Fortune 100 Best Places to Work.

Vaughn's mission is to improve the impact of executives and other managers by increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

His motto is "No matter what business you're in, you're in the people business."

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