Wednesday, March 3, 2010

5 Attributes of an Inspirational Leader

John Maxwell gives us something all to aspire to in one of his latest books on leadership. Pastor Chris

5 Attributes of an Inspirational Leader

1. Attitude Of Service To be an inspirational leader, you must adopt an attitude of service toward those you lead. This requires laying aside selfish interests to add value to another person. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” When you serve, you awaken something magnetic inside of you. People are drawn to follow you because they know you'll find ways to make them better.

2. Affirmation To inspire means to have a positive view of others. If we’re not careful, we become fault-finders, magnifying the flaws in everyone around us. Instead, leaders should emulate gold prospectors—always on the lookout for potential gold mines. When they find traces of ore, prospectors assume there’s a rich vein to unearth, and they start digging. Likewise, leaders ought to search for the best traits within a person and commit to uncovering them. Focusing on a person’s strengths inspires them by promoting confidence, growth, and success.

3. Attentiveness Great inspirers know the desires of those they lead. As much as people respect the knowledge and ability of their leaders, these are secondary concerns for them. They don't care how much their leaders know until they know how much their leaders care. When leaders attend to the deeply felt needs of their team, the determination and commitment of each team member skyrockets.

4. Availability Leaders inspire by intentionally investing time in the people they lead. They make themselves available. People cannot be nurtured from a distance or by infrequent spurts of attention. They need a leader to spend time with them—planned time, not just a conversation in passing.

In our fast-paced and demanding world, time is a leader’s most precious commodity. While it feels costly to give up, nothing communicates you value a person more than the gift of your time. Also investing time to develop others has a way of reaping dividends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

5. Authenticity To inspire, leaders have to be genuine. Followers want to believe in and trust their leaders. However, when leaders break promises or fail to honor commitments, they reveal themselves as being inauthentic, and lose credibility. Trust rests upon a foundation of authenticity. To gain trust, a leader must consistently align words and deeds, while showing a degree of transparency.

Summary Inspiring is more of a process than an event. It’s more than a brilliant speech; it’s cultivating habits of brilliance that manifest themselves daily.

Adapted from John Maxwell’s “5 Attributes of an Inspirational Leader,” Leadership Wired 3/24/09