Inspirational Leadership

Posted in : HR Updates on 12 March 2012
Nicola Shaw

Nicola Shaw writes:

I was at an event a couple of weeks ago and heard Will McKee speaking. For those people reading this who are not familiar with Will, don’t panic, neither was I before hearing him speak. Will’s topic at the seminar was about Inspirational Leadership and he was great – you could even say he inspired me!! His core message was this:

If we ourselves aren’t inspired, how can we inspire others?

I don’t walk around thinking “how can I inspire my colleagues today?” or “I am an inspiration to others?”. But Will’s talk really left me wondering about how I can ensure that I DO inspire others. 

The Do’s:

1. Believe in Yourself

It stands to reason that you have to believe in yourself if you want others to take you seriously and to also believe in you. If you don’t see yourself as a great Manager or Leader, why should you be regarded as such by others? 

To me, being a great leader – an inspirational leader - means you need confidence, ability and integrity. 

How do you learn to believe in yourself? 

For me, I started to believe in myself because I knew I was doing my best. I was working hard, doing my best for people and taking onboard learning at every opportunity. I took onboard feedback from others and tried to see my work and my approach from their perspective. I also started to believe in myself over time, as my skills and abilities increased i.e. through experience. As time went on, I came to realise I was the “Go-to person” for queries and complex issues, which demonstrated that others respected me and valued my opinion and this in turn helped me respect myself.

As weird as this sounds, I also believed in myself a bit more each time I changed jobs. Take a step back and think about it:

  • there is a selection process, this is usually rigorous
  • there is open competition
  • the process is fairly applied


So pats on the back to each one of you reading this – we can’t support and ensure the fair application of a merit based process and not believe that it gets the right results, surely?! 

As William James states, “belief creates the actual fact”. So believe in yourself and success

2. Work Hard

When I see someone who has worked hard to achieve something, they have my respect. I am more inclined to want to be like them, as I see that their efforts have reaped rewards. What about the people for whom success lands in their lap? I can honestly say, I don’t respect them and depending on my mood, I will either feel resentful or a bit envious – neither of which are constructive or positive, I know. They have to do a lot more to prove themselves and gain my respect and buy-in.

3. Follow Through on Commitments

One of my own personal hates is when someone promises to do something, and then doesn’t. I feel let down, frustrated and lose trust in them. We are in the process of building a house and my main gripe has been when trades people have not shown up when they say they will. I hate it when I have to go chasing after them and for this reason, there is one of our trades that whilst the quality of their work is second to none, I don’t know that I could recommend them to others.

I don’t want people to be saying that same thing about me, so I try to ensure that I manage my workload and deadlines in such a way that it ensures that I get things done. If something more urgent needs to be completed, or I have underestimated the amount of time something will take, I try to ensure that I communicate this to the right people, so that they don’t feel let down, or believe me to be unreliable.

4. Be Persuasive

If you want to inspire others, I think you need to be able to have people believe in you. The example given by Will McKee was Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, which is a turning point in our history. That speech was made back in 1963, yet if you were to listen to it now, it still has power, influence and courage. We all have within us the power to persuade others to our way of thinking – and must be able to do this in a positive and effective manner if we want to succeed in our goal to inspire others. If we can bring people with us instead of having to force them to do what we want, it will make for a much more constructive and productive working environment.


Final Thought

At the beginning of this blog, I wrote that I don’t walk around each day thinking about what I can do today that will inspire others. I think that if I can start to think about what I can do that will inspire and motivate myself that will be a good place to start, because I know that good enough, is not enough. I want more – and more importantly, - I want to be more.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my all time favourite novels – one that inspired me as a teenager:

“First with the head and then with the heart, that's how a man stays ahead from the start”. Bryce Courtenay, in his novel, “The Power Of One”.

This article is correct at 10/11/2015
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Nicola Shaw

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