Eight Principles of Inspirational Leadership

 -  2/21/13

Stressing values, earning trust and connecting with others are some of the ways leaders can inspire their organizations to achieve greater success.


Moving Beyond Command and Control

Companies of all sizes and shapes are creating more responsive and ethical cultures driven by a shared sense of purpose and meaning.

Companies from all over the world are thinking differently about values, culture, trust, transparency, meaningful connections and collaboration. These characteristics are different from command and control organizations where power is the province of the few and information is tightly controlled. This traditional ethic has led to uneven performance, escalating self-interest, growing dissatisfaction with companies, missed opportunities and even scandal, but talent leaders can help companies to envision a different future by enabling a new brand of leadership.

Living examples of this new future are led by people who have a different view of what leadership means and can do. They view it as a behavior, not a title. It is more about relationships and connections than power and authority. They don’t coerce or threaten to achieve results, they inspire others to act. They pursue significance beyond the immediate and short-term. They demonstrate “humbition” — a humble personal perspective accompanied by a fierce ambition for the organization’s success. They help to create a culture bigger than themselves so the organization endures.

Researchers John Zenger and Joseph Folkman uncovered similar findings in their multi-year research detailed in their book The Extraordinary Leader. They examined more than 200,000 surveys for 20,000 leaders with correlated company performance data. The most important factors that distinguish the best from the worst leaders are: inspires others to high levels of effort and performance and energizes people to achieve exceptional success.

The Inspirational Leadership Model
While there is widespread agreement that new approaches are needed, and that “inspiration” is a vital ingredient, according to the 2011 HOW Report from advisory services firm LRN Corp., only 4 percent of organizations inspire their employees. It is valuable to define inspirational leadership not in terms of traditional leadership competencies, but principles that provide a broad framework to guide future behavior for the leader and the organization.

There are eight principles of inspirational leadership that a leader demonstrates that become infused into the culture. They can be divided into business and relationship clusters to reflect the fact that inspirational leadership is about both relationships and positive organizational and business results.

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