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How to be an inspiring leader

Inspiration is the one skill all leaders need to know,  according to Richard Branson.  John Quincy Adams defined a leader as someone whose actions “inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.” Inspiring leaders are transformational leaders. Many leaders expect their employees to respect and follow them simply because of their job title. But job titles don’t make inspiring leaders. Instead, leaders inspire others when they’ve been forged in the fires of life’s adversity. I’m continually learning new ways to improve my leadership so I can encourage my staff to be their best, most fulfilled selves.

Guide with a focus on the future

Are you only focused on the short-term? Or do you consider every decision and action in light of the future? One of the core leadership roles described in The Leadership Code (Harvard Business Press) was a strategist. When your employees ask you about the direction of your company, can you give them a map to the final destination? Having a vision for the future starts with knowing where you want to go.

Be passionate about your work and your team

Passionate people take significant risks, step up to the plate, and empower their team and company to do more than they ever thought possible. Being a passionate leader, in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always red-faced and exuberant. Instead, it’s an internal motivation to learn more about the world and to care more about the people around you.

Align your words and actions

David M. Long, assistant professor of Organizational Behavior at the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary, stated that integrity is one of the three pillars of a leader’s trustworthiness. When your thoughts and words match, you have integrity. Being honest with yourself and your employees allows everyone to see reality as it is, not as you wish it to be.. Facing reality is the first step in directing your company toward a better future. Integrity goes beyond words or simply saying that we “value integrity.” It means we live and believe what we tell our employees.

Know how to delegate

One-man armies have limits. When we take on too many tasks, we will rarely get anything significant accomplished. While some may believe that delegating duties is a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of a great leader. But delegation is far from simple. Anyone who has hired a bad employee or contractor knows that work ethic and competencies often vary from what’s “on paper.” How do you delegate then?

First, assign tasks based on the assignee’s strengths, considering their weaknesses and preferences. Understanding your employee’s skill set, their current workload, and overall career goals will help you select an assignee that is capable and willing to help you.

Second, empower the assignee with the training, resources, and support necessary to do their job well. Delegation is an excellent opportunity for your employees or contractors to learn or hone skills that may support their career goals. Entrusting tasks and responsibilities to your employees or contractors signifies to them that you respect them, increasing their willingness to collaborate with you.

Editor’s note: This article originally published in the Fresno Business Journal.

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