Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi: four history-makers who I’d suspect would be almost universally recognised as inspirational leaders. But what exactly makes a leader ‘inspiring’?
Michael Hyatt, accomplished author, publisher, company CEO and chairman, in a 2007 blog post suggested 4 characteristics of inspirational leaders, referencing the medieval Scottish revolutionary William Wallace as portrayed in Mel Gibson’s epic film “Braveheart”. Inspirational leaders:
1. Set the pace
2. Believe in the future
3. Connect people to the larger story
4. Help people believe in themselves
In short, I believe Michael Hyatt was talking about influence and vision. Inspirational leaders are able to influence people’s thoughts and behaviours creating a shared sense of purpose.
Renowned leadership expert John Maxwell categorically states “leadership is influence”. So whilst you may not hold a position of leadership or a title that states you are a leader, you can still indeed influence others.
The significance of inspirational leadership is reinforced by research released in October 2011 showing that 52% of the 3000 Australian employment survey respondents identified “inspirational” as the key attribute sought by employees in their bosses. It wasn’t knowledge or experience, it was being able to inspire their staff which translated to providing a tangible “why” they do the things they do or, in other words, delivering a sense of purpose.
Combining the survey results with the experienced insights from both Hyatt and Maxwell, it’s reasonable to conclude that if you can provide people with a clear understanding of the “why” and then engage them as part of the “how”, you can then collectively achieve the “what”. Now we may not be called to lay our life down in battle, but we are called to be the difference.
Are you ready to be a history-maker?
Let hope rise.