What comes to mind when you think of an inspirational leader?
Maybe it’s Billy Graham, the evangelist whose influence placed him in the company of Presidents. Or maybe it’s someone like Martin Luther King, who risked his own life so that all people could live in equality. Perhaps it’s Bono, who uses his fame to bring attention to human suffering around the world.
Or it could be someone closer to home – someone you’ve worked with who led you well.
Whoever your favorite inspirational leader might be, he or she had three essential qualities.
The first quality is focus.
I had a magnifying glass as a kid. One summer I got into wood burning. I took a block of wood, wrote a Bible verse on it, and traced the design with the magnifying glass. Now if I had waved the magnifying glass, there would be no art. But when I held the glass over the lines I wanted to burn in, within a short period of time I had a plaque suitable for framing. In fact, one of these still hangs in my parents’ house today.
Leaders who focus on their vision inspire others to do the same.
The second quality of inspirational leaders is optimism.
Optimists approach life differently than pessimists do. Does someone who is miserable and gloomy inspire you or no they make you feel worse about your own life?
Pessimists see failure as the inevitable end of any endeavor. In fact, failure is generally what they expect to get. Optimists expect to win. But when they do fail, they use the experience to learn how to win the next time.
Pessimists see problems as insurmountable barriers. Optimists see problems as a chance to learn. They don’t spend time pointing fingers of blame and going no further. They step back, see how the situation could have been handled better and take whatever steps they can to improve the current situation.
Challenges invigorate optimists. They depress pessimists.
Can you see which approach could serve you better?
The third quality of inspirational leaders is preparation. They are ready to follow their vision. They also equip others with everything they need to make the vision real.
Earlier we saw that preparation is the greatest ally of courage and the greatest enemy of fear. As you move forward, your preparation will make the road ahead easier to navigate. It’s like having a GPS to guide you somewhere you’ve never been before. The more prepared you are, the less fear you’ll experience.
If you want to be a more inspirational leader, you’ll need focus to drive you and your team to pursue your vision. Add optimism and preparation and it’s a sure bet you’ll inspire others.