Stop Making Leadership the Responsibility of Someone Else. 

It’s Your Job. 

I feel privileged to work as a leadership consultant during this moment in time, to observe the many faces of leadership as history is made.

Ten months into a global pandemic, the world, the country and the workforce continue to shift and evolve in an uncertain environment. Leaders must lead powerfully through this unrelenting change to carry their organizations and employees through with success.

What it takes to lead now looks different than ten months ago, and as we look to the future, it is clear that success demands new sets of leadership skills, energy and capabilities. In fact, according to a recent article by Zenger & Folkman in Harvard Business Review, women leaders have risen to the top due to their acumen in: relationship building, learning agility, communication, integrity and inspiring others.  

Knowing that leading success into the future is going to look different, leaders who are invested in their own growth and agility will be the ones who stand out and out perform.

The inspired leader.

Inspired leaders know that before they can inspire others, their first job is to inspire themselves. They understand that to build the organization of the future, they have to model what they want to see from the top. The truth is that unless senior leaders are deeply committed, the organization will be limited in what it can achieve.

Becoming a leader of the future

What does an inspired leader of the future look like?

They Practice Inspiration

Inspired leaders have a rigorous inspiration practice. In other words, they spend time throughout the day paying attention to how they feel and doing things that help them stay inspired so they can be at their best. They know that at the core of attracting followership, leading growth and change, reimagining the future and managing performance excellence is knowing how to to keep themselves inspired and making sure that they are igniting it as often as possible. After all, inspiration is a powerful emotion that moves us forward and brings out our best, and like all emotions, it is contagious

They Prioritize People and Performance

Inspired leaders prioritize people strategy as a driver of performance. When people are having their best days more often, they are outperforming. Inspired leaders know that supporting inspiring people and performance requires a systemic approach.  It belongs as a priority at the highest levels of executive leadership. Prioritization shows up as a commitment to a people-focused culture through the allocation of resources and financial investment in developing inspired leaders at every level, and building systems and processes that support these commitments.

They are Courageous

Inspired leaders embody courageous action. They are trailblazers, ready to walk into the discomfort that comes with being bold and brave. Nancy Koehn, Harvard Business School professor and author of Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, defines courage in leadership, “Courageous leaders are not cowed or intimidated. They realize that, in the midst of turbulence, there lies an extraordinary opportunity to grow and rise.” Moving through this time and for success into the future, leaders will have no option but to practice courage

They aren’t Afraid of Love

Inspired leaders bring love into the workplace. Yes, love. We believe that the expression of love is a critical characteristic in the leader of the future. In his Forbes article, John Rex tackles the subject of love and leadership head on and describes the behaviors of love in detail; being curious, assuming positive intent, taking an interest in people and helping others. “If the idea of practicing love in the workplace feels awkward, think about this: great leaders aren’t ashamed to bring love into the workplace. Consider the leaders you admire most and ask yourself why you admire them.” While it may make some of you uncomfortable, love is going to be more important to leadership and organizational success than we have ever imagined.

They are Vulnerable

Inspired leaders aren’t afraid of vulnerability. Brene Brown globalized the notion that vulnerability is a strength, and we could not agree more. Vulnerability is both uncomfortable and underutilized by most leaders today. As Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp offers, “vulnerability is also critically important to performance. If you don’t have the skill or aren’t putting in the effort you’re only going to be able to perform to a certain level. But once you get to that level it’s actually vulnerability that takes you higher.” Enough said.

They Embrace Humility

Inspired leaders are humble. In the words of C.S Lewis, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Leaders that are humble recognize that their success comes from and with the success of others. They are always creating opportunities for others to be at their best, they are driven by being of service as a leader. These leaders know that the true test of extraordinary leadership comes when results are achieved and everyone has grown stronger in the process.

Times of turbulence and uncertainty always represent opportunities for growth, evolution and transformation. 

What’s Next?

So, the big question is, where do you stand on each of these? Perhaps rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5, and be honest.

Where are your greatest opportunities?

As we look towards the future and reimagine how much is possible, let’s not forget that it begins with you; and it begins at the top. 


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