How Great Leaders Motivate Others: The 7 Traits Of Successful People (infographic)

7 Traits Of Inspiring Leadership That Uplifts Rather Than DestroysSimon Sinek, in his famed TEDx talk and his book “Start with Why,” said people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It’s advice that struck a chord when he first said it and continues to strike a chord with leaders today. That’s because it gets to the heart of an issue leaders continually struggle with—how to inspire the people you lead, and keep them inspired.

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to create clarity of purpose. Show your people why you’re doing what you do. But what does it take to be that kind of inspirational leader? There’s the concept of the “born leader.” Is that true, or is inspirational leadership a skill set you can learn?

Like so many things, of course, it’s a little of both. Studies have shown that great leadership is about 24 percent genetic and 76 percent learned. Natural ability helps, but the majority of what goes into making an inspirational leader is about skills and behaviors you can intentionally develop.

With that in mind, it makes sense that you can develop the abilities of an inspirational leader by looking at what other inspirational leaders do. Here are seven traits and behaviors effective leaders tend to exhibit:
  1. Authenticity and trustworthiness
  2. Positive energy
  3. Deep listening
  4. Self-awareness and others-awareness
  5. Recharging their own emotional batteries regularly
  6. Clear vision and core values
  7. Centeredness
That’s who inspirational leaders are. But that’s not where they stop. Effective leaders take those traits and behaviors and funnel them back into their teams. They inspire their teams by:
  1. Caring as much about people as the business
  2. Pushing for excellence
  3. Leading with both “head” and “heart”
  4. Looking for opportunities to learn from others on the team
  5. Developing others
  6. Valuing the input of everyone on the team
Inspirational leaders are identified not only by what they do, but by what they don’t do. Being controlling, negative or fearful will never inspire a team, only kill their motivation. So, as much as leaders need to develop the positive traits of leadership, they need to be vigilant not to let characteristics that harm the team creep into their day to day. Negativity, fear of failure, micromanagement or failing to paint a clear picture of your vision, mission and goals are all ways you’ll hamstring your own effectiveness as a leader. And they’ll damage the performance of your team.
Related: Find Out What Type Of Leader You Are – And How You Can Improve (infographic)
The long and short of it is, find a strong why, hold to your convictions and care about people. Which brings us back to the beginning, right where we started with Simon Sinek’s statement: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Inspirational leaders have a strong sense of purpose. They have a vision and core values that drive them. And they’re great at communicating that purpose — that “why” — consistently within their team.When purpose is at the forefront of everything you do, you can’t help but inspire those around you.

Of course, one of the best ways to learn is from the example of others. These six female leaders are big shoes to fill, but provide an example worth looking up to:
  1. Oprah Winfrey, media mogul who inspired an entire generation to pursue their dreams
  2. Margaret Thatcher, first female leader of a major political party in the UK
  3. Erna Solberg, second female prime minister of Norway
  4. Indira Gandhi, only female prime minister of India
  5. Coco Chanel, worldwide leader in fashion and feminism
  6. Benazir Bhutto, first woman to head a democratic Muslim country (as PM of Pakistan)
All six of these women blazed trails in their own way, inspiring many to follow.

One of the dangers, however, with looking to famous inspirational leaders for guidance, is that you can start to get blinded by personality. You see the hard-charging general. The stoic CEO. The steamrolling visionary. But we have to remember, leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, personality plays a role. But so do skills you can develop over time. A one-size-fits-all mold of leadership doesn’t exist, and the old-school idea of my-way-or-the-highway leadership simply doesn’t work these days (really, it never did).

So, learn from the leaders you admire. But understand that inspirational leadership is absolutely something you can learn, grow into and achieve with the right kind of direction.

If you’d like to read up on inspirational leadership further, check out this in-depth blog post and infographic from leadership training firm InitiativeOne: How Inspirational Leaders Motivate Despite Personality, Age, Or Genetic Differences

How Inspirational Leaders Motivate Despite Personality, Age, Or Genetic Differences - infographic

Read Next: Where do the most successful leaders seek inspiration? Feat. Oprah, Bill Gates, Barack Obama & More

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