What kind of leader do you want to be?

Uplifting leadershipI believe we all deserve to work for inspiring leaders. Inspiring leaders lift us up, nurture our strengths, share the vision and are committed to helping us grow into our potential. This is a tall order, and sadly, these kind of leaders are few and far between.

Inspiring leaders are individuals who are committed to developing their leadership effectiveness and are incredibly intentional with their efforts to grow as leaders. I believe that one of the key ingredients to inspiring leadership is emotional intelligence, which can be developed in us if we are attentive to the domains of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman writes “Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal. Great leadership works through emotions.”

If more leaders were comfortable with the idea that they need to tap into our hearts, as well as our heads, we would be more inspired to rise to challenges, work hard to achieve the mission, while staying motivated in the day to day grind. It takes a very self-assured and self-aware person to lead in this manner, and often the kind of vulnerability that is required to lead in this way is so uncomfortable for people, they steer clear of it and lead to our heads.

I have witnessed the dichotomy of these two ways of leading – head and heart – during my tenure in the non-profit sector. I had the benefit of working for one leader who was incredibly intelligent, strategic and courageous as a leader, while also showing vulnerability, compassion and empathy with her staff. This leader developed a high performing team that was infused with trust, high quality work and commitment to achieving goals. I remember discovering my own potential during her tenure. I knew she believed in me and that inspired me to rise.

On the heels of this leader came a person who was embodied that “head only” style of leadership and while she was strategic in her approach to the work, she was completely ineffective at bringing along the team with a shared vision. The prior trust that we enjoyed quickly eroded as our own emotional state deteriorated when we did not feel valued, trusted or included. The leader’s inability to demonstrate her trust in us quickly undermined the positive culture we previously enjoyed.

Inspiring leadership is what the world needs most, and it will require a shift in the way we think about leadership and what we celebrate about leadership. This is the style of leadership we all crave; so we can be our best and develop our potential. The role of a leader is to help others rise.

What kind of leader do you want to be?