Inspirational Leadership

Key Idea 

Inspiration is the new charisma. The inspiring leader motivates, and it’s this single attribute that many suggest is the most important quality or competency. The ability of leaders to inspire their followers is that important (and rare).

Book to Read  

The Inspiring Leader
by John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger (2009)

Quick Take from the Book

According to Zenger and his colleagues, there are 10 behaviors that every inspiring leader should avoid:

  1. Lacks energy or enthusiasm.
  2. Rarely offers clarity of purpose or direction.
  3. Avoids setting challenging goals or objectives.
  4. No plans for personal development.
  5. Never coaches or mentors.
  6. Controls and hoards information.
  7. Says one thing and does another.
  8. Plays one group off another.
  9. Shows little interest in the ideas of others.
  10. Rarely provides feedback on performance.

Quote of Note

"Our research revealed that there was one leadership competency that deserved some special attention. It was “inspires and motivates to high performance.” Our research showed that “inspires and motivates to high performance” is the most powerful predictor of someone’s being seen as an extraordinary leader. When subordinates were directly asked what leadership competency they most wanted to have in their leader, their resounding first choice was “inspires and motivates to high performance.” When we analyzed what leadership behaviors were most associated with the highest levels of employee commitment, “inspires and motivates” again was the competency at the top of the list. It was consistently the most highly correlated with those employees who would recommend the organization to a friend, seldom thought about leaving, and were willing to go the extra mile." — pp. 5-6. 

Related Styles: Charismatic Leadership

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