Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired people around the world with a message of peaceful resistance and racial equality. His famous speech, “I HAVE A DREAM,” which he gave in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, helped to inspire the world to think differently about people, no matter the color or ethnicity. He inspired people by his non-violence approach to his protest, and he inspired people to dream of a world where “little white boys and little white girls will be able to hold hands with little black boys and black girls as sisters and brothers.” His words gave everyone hope that one day they would all be free from the nightmare of racial inequality.
Nelson Mandela was a great pioneer who helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Although he was imprisoned for 27 years due to his anti-apartheid actions, he was released and later became his country’s first black president in 1994. Mandela inspired the world with his advocacy for peace, racial unity, social justice, and forgiveness. He was a champion of the people and spent 95 years building his legacy until his death in 2013.
There are many great leaders like Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Mohammed Ali, etc. who used their most lethal weapon, inspiration, to ignite a spark within their followers that move them to action from all over the world. According to Marissa Levin, when we are inspired, we aren’t thinking about the final end state. When we are filled with inspiration, we want to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible. This is why the most effective leaders are the most inspired leaders - and the most inspirational.
Richard Branson identifies the ability to inspire as the single most critical leadership skill. The ability to infuse energy, passion, commitment, and connection to an organization’s mission and direction is essential in any growing company. When we are filled with inspiration, we often don’t need external motivation to move forward. The feeling of purpose and meaning is enough to propel us.
When we are void of inspiration, we must seek out ways to keep ourselves moving forward towards a clearly defined end state. Those without a clear vision, mission, or purpose often require lots of external motivation to keep moving forward. Those that operate and live from a place of purpose are inspired every day to give 100%. They may get tired, but they can reach back to their higher purpose to be inspired.
According to Marissa, Harvard Business School gathered data from assessments of more than 50,000 leaders, and the ability to inspire stood out as one of the most critical competencies. It is the trait that creates the highest levels of engagement, it is what separates the best leaders from everyone else, and it is what employees want most in their leaders.
I believe that true leaders are inspirational according to Frederika Roberts, they exert a positive influence over their colleagues, and they are essential to business success. As Greg Savage points out in his article, “People don’t leave companies, they leave Leaders’ when employees leave it’s not “the company” they blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning. It’s the leadership!
Inspiration and leadership are inseparable if you don’t inspire your teams to achieve greatness if you cannot inspire a group of people to follow your vision if you cannot inspire people by your words and your actions; you’re not a leader. You’re average manager, at best.
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 170,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
You can pick up your copy of my book The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible by clicking the link below