Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a local community Leadership cohort. I am sure that most communities have a local leadership program, usually through the Chamber of Commerce where aspiring community leaders learn all aspects of community leadership from local government to education. What a dynamic group of people I met from this particular cohort!
This session focused on leadership in education. When I asked the group how they defined leadership, we heard several different perspectives. A common thread among those individuals included the ability to inspire others toward a goal.
Leadership can be that simple and yet, that challenging. The complexity of leadership arises in the “inspiration” component because not all of us are inspired in the same way.
Through my years of teaching, consulting, and leading, I do find the following seven factors key in inspiring others:
- Authenticity – Transparency is here whether we like it or not. We have developed pretty good BS meters, so be who you are and stop trying to be someone else.
- Approachability – If the people around us do not feel like they can approach us with a problem, or a solution, we open ourselves up to liability and close off innovation – think Enron.
- Relatability – We are more alike than different, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can be open and authentic with one another.
- Listening – When we stop to really listen to each other, what we hear can enlighten us with insight, answers, and solutions.
- Decisiveness – Leaders, good leaders, are not afraid to make decisions. If they are not the right decisions, we can course correct. Remember, we cannot course correct if we do not get out on the course.
- Openness – It is important for us to stay open to new ideas and ways of doing our work. Innovation does not come in doing the same thing repeatedly – think Einstein’s definition of insanity.
- Trustworthy – Once we lose trust in others or ourselves, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Innovation, loyalty, and full-on engagement only comes when trust is present.
Inspiring leadership is a huge responsibility…and tremendously rewarding. Are you up for the challenge?