The five attributes of inspirational leaders is a series of posts highlighting the shared characteristics of inspirational leaders. Each post features one attribute of inspirational leaders and one leader who exemplifies it. The five attributes are based on employee inputs and expert research. A previous post discusses the 5 things inspirational leaders communicate. 

Why does inspirational leadership matter? What does it create that otherwise might not exist? What occurs as a result of your inspirational leadership?

If you want people to do the job, pay them.

Five Attributes of Inspirational Leadership and the Extra Mile

Five Attributes of Inspirational Leadership - Gain the Extra Mile

If you want them to care, to go the extra mile, to exceed their own expectations, to do things they didn’t think were possible, inspire them.

Here’s the tricky part, if you’re focused on the results, the extra mile, you’ve taken your eyes off what’s most important and people will sniff you out. Inspirational leadership flips the ends and the means. By focusing on people, inspirational leaders create an environment where others produce results because they aspire to, not because they have to.

Caveat 1: Inspirational leadership is but one aspect of being a great leader, which requires a good deal more than inspiration.

Caveat 2: You can’t fake it. One of the key attributes of Inspirational leaders is authenticity.

Attributes of Inspiration Leaders: First and Foremost

Inspirational leaders are passionate about:

  • Their purpose
  • The “Why”
  • The greater good they seek to achieve

They, perhaps more than others, are inspired. What they find meaningful and their personal ambitions are intertwined with the organization’s purpose and merged with its goals. They aren’t doing a job. They’re on a mission.

John Deere’s WHY –

For those who cultivate and harvest the land. For those who transform and enrich the land. For those who build upon the land. John Deere is committed to your success.

Many, perhaps most, company leaders are focused on the “What”. What they sell, the products they create, the service they deliver. Inspirational leaders are in touch with why they are building a company.

One Leader’s Passion

Consider Charles Schwab. He grew up poor. His parents used government food rations to barter for goods and services they couldn’t afford, all the time striving for financial independence, not wealth, but independence.

Schwab attempted law school, but dyslexia stood in his way and he dropped out. He was good at math, however, and became interested in studying the financial markets in the days before deregulation. He believed that access to financial independence should be fair and available to the average citizen. Enormous brokers’ fees, however, blocked that access. So Schwab set out to democratize Wall Street, and he did just that.

Schwab turned the industry on its head to set it right. He put customers, not brokers, first. In 1973 he started Charles Schwab & Co. Inc, a discount brokerage firm. The company’s founding principles included customers first and delivering the best value at the best price. Schwab was first to offer client seminars and 24/7 order entry and quote services. He continued his focus on helping people achieve financial independence through more knowledge about, and more access to, investing in the stock market.

Purpose First

To date, millions of Charles Schwab clients have achieved financial independence. The company now has 12,000 employees and a market capitalization of $36 billion. “Chuck’s” passion and his purpose was to help average citizens achieve financial independence. Wealth, for himself and others, was the outcome of that passion and the smart business moves that followed. It was not the driving force but the means to an end.

Move on to Attribute 2

Anne Perschel
Anne Perschel
When she is not consulting; coaching; reading and writing about leadership; or enjoying her work in other ways; Anne can be found:

Listening to ocean waves receding over stones.
Enjoying the spontaneous expressions of young children who haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions.
Taking in the scent of freesias, lilacs or salt water.
Enjoying the great, or not so great, outdoors and all variations of nature’s gifts.
At the gym.

As Seen In:

5 Attributes of Inspirational Leaders - Number 1