The Inspiring Leader

by Lee Buford on November 4, 2010

Much is made of one’s ability to lead others and the qualities, characteristics, and methods by which he or she does so. In fact you can find any number of “Keys to Leadership Success” at every turn or click of the mouse.

Many in fact are legitimate and worthwhile to read, study, and emulate. But it seems to me the one constant thread that runs through all great leaders is their ability to inspire others.

Not manage…Not manipulate…Not force…


Sure, successful leaders do some of those other things as well at times, and the good ones do them with excellence. But they do them only when necessary, in rare cases, and not as a rule. If you’re not inspiring others to action and excellence you’re not leading.

You’re bossing. You’re bullying. You’re dictating.

And if you are, you may have some degree of success…for a while at least. But it won’t last, and it definitely won’t endear you to others for the long-term. As soon as you lose your position of authority you will also lose those you thought you were inspiring.

No matter your role or position, be it parent, CEO, pastor, or other, people are looking to you for guidance, direction, and purpose. They’re looking to you for encouragement and vision. They’re looking for someone they can trust, someone who believes what they believe.

They are looking for inspiration.

As Simon Sinek puts it, they’re looking for the “why“, and he gives a wonderful example that puts this idea in perspective. Referring to the ability of Martin Luther King, Jr. to rally and move others to action by inspiring them, Sinek reminds us:

“By the way, he gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.

What are you inspiring others to do?


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