Inspirational Leadership: Making a Difference in Peoples’ Lives

On the 28th of August 1963, a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became a major turning point in American history.

King spent most of his life advocating equal rights for all. He used non-violent resistance to overcome injustice and to put an end to segregation laws which prevented blacks from entering certain places such as restaurants, hotels and public schools. All his efforts resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which authorised the federal government to desegregate public accommodations. In the same year he became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The life story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. teaches us an important lesson in leadership which is still relevant for the leaders of today – you can make a difference in other people’s lives if you lead with inspiration and motivation.

Importance of Inspirational Leadership in the Workplace

Thomas Edison was once quoted as saying “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. But when it comes to building an organisation employees love, research done by the Economist Intelligence Unit says the otherwise. The research reveals that employees who are under leaders who inspire and motivate them are far more productive and, in turn, inspire those around them to strive for greater heights.

A study from the LRN reveals that employees under inspirational leaders displayed three key characteristics: They are authentically dedicated, deeply accountable and fully responsible. Inspired employees are also extraordinarily productive.

Research also reveals that engaged organisations have been proven to be 22% more profitable than unengaged ones, while businesses where the majority of the staff are inspired consistently return over 24% to shareholders!

This is because their leaders:

– Are able to handle difficult individuals and groups of people and tense situations with diplomacy and tact
– Spot potential conflict, bring disagreements into the open, and help de-escalate

- Encourage debate and open discussion
– Draw out all parties, understand the differing perspectives, and find a common ideal that everyone can endorse
– Orchestrate win-win solutions

On the other hand, employees who are under uninspiring leadership are disengaged and are unproductive. According to research, companies who have disengaged employees lose 20 to 25% of their revenue each year.

Disengaged employees have leaders who:

– Are uncomfortable with and tend to avoid conflict
– Lack consideration and tact when voicing disagreement; in fact, often present their arguments in a way that creates hostility
– Fail to listen to others’ points of view when disagreement arises
– Cannot seem to find, see, or propose areas of common ground; tend to focus solely and robustly on their own point of view
– Tend to see others as “opponents” and try to find solutions that serve only themselves
– Fail to see what part they may play in creating a problem; blame the problem and the conflict on others

Inspirational leadership, like other social intelligence competencies, is a learned ability. Developing our social + emotional intelligence gives us the potential to become proficient in these skills. You may not be the “big boss” in your company nor the leader of a big movement for a cause, but you may have a family, a group of friends, or a team that need to be inspired or to be led to a better direction. How would you like to stand up to the occasion? Who knows you might just be their Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, you are not born an inspiring leader but you can learn to be one. The following development tips can help you get started:

– Develop a clear vision for the future of the initiative, the group or the organisation
– Articulate that vision in a way that inspires, motivates, compels and mobilises others to want to achieve it

- Challenge the status-quo; be creative; come up with fresh perspectives, innovative and breakthrough ideas
– Know what you admire in a leader, develop your own personal definition of meaningful, inspired leadership, and model the way

- Openly discuss high-level issues with your team or group, seek substantive input, share credit, create opportunities for ownership in the vision
– Think big-picture, don’t micro-manage, give capable team and group members latitude to move things forward
– Maintain your credibility and integrity at all times or you will not be given the opportunity to lead

If Martin Luther King Jr. did not take a stand to put an end to the segregation laws, America would not have been the America that it is now – a land of justice, acceptance and freedom.

John Quincy Adams said it best:
 “If your action inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more you are a leader”

People Builders have a team of highly skilled workplace behaviour and social + emotional intelligence trainers and coaches that can help you become an inspirational leader.

Contact Us today for a complimentary chat that will give you the clarity you need to get started on this important journey of change.