Bringing Out the Best in Others
for Corporate Success
Leaders through the years show what makes inspirational leadership
All the talk on leadership can be mind-boggling. But there is a common thread that runs through all views of leaders - character.
Former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
Five-star American General Douglas McArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”
Peter Drucker, the management guru, said of leadership, “Leadership is not magnetic personality – that can as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ – that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limits.”
Thus, people who have seen and been leaders, understand that leadership goes beyond self to encompass others. Leaders, including a non-executive director, perceive what their people are capable of, and lift them up to become their very best.
This trait was observed by Warren Bennis, who is credited with inventing the “study of corporate leadership.” Bennis, and who advised several U.S. Presidents, writing at least 30 books on leadership, during his life. He said, “Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon.”
Importantly, he believed leaders are made, not born, and that leadership consists of skills that can be learned through hard work. Like actors who inhabit roles for a great performance, leaders too need to inhabit their roles, and experience self-discovery.
Even as some believe leaders are made, others believe leaders are born. And while there is no do-it-yourself manual to teach the tricks of becoming a great leader, the necessary aptitude includes many soft skills.
For instance, a good leader should be an inspiration.
A recent IBM survey of 1,700 CEOs in 64 countries found that a critical leadership trait is the ability to inspire. One of the most visible traits of leaders is, their ability to walk the talk. They do not merely tell employees they are deeply committed to their customer’s experience. They show that they are, at every meeting, presentation, and most importantly, in the way they handle customer problems, thus, inspiring employees to commitment and passion for the customer experience.
A good leader is passionate about vision and mission of his company.
A company mission is its raison d'être, and a powerful tool to share the company story with employees and customers. Consequently, the story becomes a strong bond enveloping leadership, employees and customers. And when the leader’s actions in everyday company life reflect the mission, employees will take it on as well, performing their tasks in lines with the mission, communicating their passion to customers too. So, regularly communicating the big picture reinforces the reason for your company’s existence.
This makes it imperative for a good leader to listen to people in their organization.
A CEO or leader of a company should not only speak with people about the passion that drives them, they need to listen to their people too. They need to allow the ideas and thoughts of their staff to filter through in shaping the company’s vision and mission, and, to a degree, the organization’s goals and action plans. An inspirational leader communicates integrity, inclusion, and sensitivity to employee needs, and employees reciprocate through loyalty and commitment to their work, even going beyond the call of duty.
A good leader establishes an inspirational corporate culture
A company’s culture is deeply influenced by its founder and senior leadership, through their core values, which in turn become the organization’s deeply-held beliefs, their highest priorities, and the company’s fundamental driving force. It is key to corporate structure and development, decision making, employee performance assessment and assignments, and strategic direction.
A good leader enables inclusion and boosts employee morale
People are inspired when they feel really included by their employer, which means being intimately connected to the actions and process of the company. Furthermore, employee morale is boosted with confidence in the capability of their leaders. Sharing a positive vision on the company’s direction enables a high employee morale.
A good leader demonstrates integrity and earns trust
A leader who proves trustworthiness and dependability, draws employees and customers alike. Employees respect leaders who tell the truth, try to do what is right, live a principled life, and do their best. They believe in their leader’s integrity upon seeing it demonstrated in decision-making and treatment of customers and employees. Employees, in turn, become principled, and behave honorably, because that is how their leader works.
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A good leader gives their employees what they want
Inspirational leaders pay their employees the best they can, and also cultivate a climate of gratitude in the company. They give praise and recognition where needed, saying thank you and noticing individual employee’s contribution to a successful task. When the company leader directly speaks to contributing employees on how valuable their work is for the company, it becomes a key source of inspiration for the employee. A leader’s everyday actions at work are a powerful indicator of inspiration.
Thus, understanding the importance of leadership is critical for overall company success. In fact, the main strategic priority for 58% of companies in the U.S. is closing their current leadership skill gaps. They recently spent $31 billion on leadership programs to inculcate leadership skills in senior employees.
Leadership, therefore, is considered a critical quality for corporate success.
British business magnate, Richard Branson, said, “People are fundamental in driving the success of a business. If you treat your staff like the smart and capable adults they are — and give them choice to make informed decisions — you will cultivate an environment in which everyone can flourish.”
About the Author
Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era.