What Inspirational Leaders Do

So what does it take for a leader to inspire others?

As a leader, you have a vision of where you want your organization to go.

You know you need to inspire individuals to get them to follow you and make that vision a reality. But how do you do that? How do you connect with people in a way that fires them up, motivating them to commit to your vision and give you their best?

In our book “What Inspirational Leaders Do” (Kindle 2008) we explore what inspirational leaders do to bring out the best in their teams. Specifically, we discuss several important needs or behaviors that you, as a leader, will need to know in order to inspire your team to work together to realize the vision you have for your organization.

The needs we have identified have arisen out of our work in coaching and developing business leaders all over the world. Over the last decade, we often began our first coaching session by asking, “What inspires you?” The answers to this question were compelling in that they typically reflected an individual leader’s deeply held values or needs. We subsequently grouped these needs into five categories that we call The Five Sources of Inspiration.

These sources reflect specific human needs that, when met, can release powerful inspirational forces.

The Five Sources of Inspiration

The need to:

1. Make a contribution to benefit individuals or the world-at-large. (Contribution)

2. Work in alignment with one’s highest values. (Character)

3. Engage one’s creative potential, to imagine a better way. (Imagination)

4. Be interpersonally moved or emotionally engaged to work toward achieving team goals. (Empathy)

5. Be acknowledged and affirmed for one’s unique talents and strengths, and engage those skills in meeting work challenges. (Expecting the Best)

Once engaged, these needs drive individuals to perform and produce at levels they previously may not have thought possible. A leader’s first step in inspiring others is to identify which source(s) of inspiration drive a particular individual and then appeal to that source.

Now you know the basic theme of our book.

This blog goes beyond the book to tell stories of how leaders have inspired others. We will also goes into more depth about aspects of the five sources of inspiration.

Above all, we want you to respond with your stories how others like friends, teachers, and mentors have inspired the best in you and helped you be highly innovative.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for the next blog on an aspect of character, humility, that inspires greatness in us and others.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
This entry was posted in Inspirational Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Inspirational Leaders Do

  1. Lemual Adson says:

    Great reading. I find myself in both sides of the ego and the soul searching.

    • cedricj says:

      Hi Lemual,

      Thanks for your affirming comment on my blog. My goal is to make one or two posting per month and I am glad that you are one of my readers. all the best to you and your family for the new year,

      Warm regards,


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