Have you ever thought about why you are inspired by another person? What qualities do you see in that person that stimulate or influence you? These are the questions I ask myself whenever I think about what it takes to be a character-based leader, and my ability to inspire the people around me. And then I look for how I might awaken those same qualities in me, so that I might be able to inspire or gently motivate and support others to step into their own greatness, the power they have had all along.
Over the years, these are the qualities I’ve seen that I most admire. Because you are a leader, you may already recognize them within yourself and only need a gentle reminder to practice them daily.
- Be yourself. You live in a world that is constantly trying to make you into its own image – just like everyone else. Find the courage, strength and stamina to be who you are – be the best version of who you are on your own terms. Live your life by choice, removing yourself from any situation you cannot put your heart into. It won’t be easy. The challenge is to be comfortable with who you are.
- Engage in activities you care about. Look to your interests, your principles and your values (making sure they are truly yours, and not someone else’s you have agreed to). How can you make a difference? You may take an active role in your city council, or planning commission. You might find safe harbor in spiritual pursuits or social organizations supporting causes you believe in. Making these commitments brings happiness and meaning to your life, and this passion inspires others.
- Do your best. Sure, there will be times when you do less than your best; you may even fail. The key is to pick yourself up, and make the choice to move forward. Develop mastery of your chosen path. Most people are inspired by greatness, and this is created by being excellent at what you do. Develop a reputation for excellence. Build your character. A sincerely good character always shines through.
- Care about the people in your life. Most people don’t care about how much knowledge you have, until they know that you genuinely care about them. When they have developed that trust in you that can only be developed by creating relationships deep enough to understand the values and principles they hold dear, you can begin to talk about how they might step into their own power. If people know we expect great things from them, they will do their best to live up to those expectations and will grow in the process.
- Lead by example. You have all heard the phrase “walk the talk.” Don’t ask others to do anything you are not willing to do yourself. Don’t ask your followers to tighten their belt when things get tough if you are not willing to do so yourself.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
- Help people feel good about themselves. Open your awareness to those around you, notice their positive actions, what you like about them – and tell them. Go out of your way to acknowledge those who have made every effort to excel. When you treat a person as if they are already living into their potential, you help them step into the power of who they are. When you judge another only by the mistakes and failures they experience on their way to mastery, you create fear and self-judgment.
- Communicate. Listen intently with soft ears so that you might hear more than just the words. Let others know they are important to you and you will always find time to appreciate what it is they have to say. On the other side of the coin, be impeccable with your words. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Share your vision, your values, and your principles often. Always tell the Truth as you know it. Inspire others with your commitment to the Truth. (Read The Four Agreements.)
- Be willing to be vulnerable. Share the knowledge you have. This includes what you have learned from your successes and your failures. This helps others relate to you. They will understand that everyone has challenges they need to rise up to; they are not alone.
In the end, I’ve learned that it isn’t easy to inspire others if that is the only thing you are setting out to do. Everything needed to inspire everyone around you is contained within you – it is your character and how you live your life.
What qualities are you willing to master so that you might inspire others to be their best?
For more inspiring ideas on Character-based Leadership, check out the Lead Change Group’s upcoming book, The Character Based Leader.