Are You an Inspiring Leader?
Research from Bain & Company has unveiled 32 characteristics of inspiring leaders. The good news: You only need to possess four of them to be considered inspiring.
New research unveils 32 characteristics of inspiring leaders. The good news: You only need to possess four of them to be considered inspiring.
WHAT MAKES A LEADER INSPIRING? According to research we recent- ly conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit, companies that can answer this question have a powerful tool to increase their competitive edge. We found that inspired employees are more than twice as productive as satisfied employees.
The power of a company with leaders who inspire at every level up and down the organization is hard to overstate. These are the companies that consistently pull off innovative or heroic feats in business because so many of the people who work there are motivated to make them happen. Companies spend billions of dollars on leadership training to reinforce and enhance the soft skills that inspire, motivate and create engagement, but most have found that it is deceptively hard to do these things.
Few rigorous methods exist to measure someone’s ability to inspire, to systematically develop that intangible quality or to embed those skills throughout an organization. As Barbara Kellerman, founding executive director of the Centre for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, has observed: “Leadership as an area of intellectual inquiry remains thin, and little original thought has been given to what leader learning in the second decade of the 21st century should look like.”
What does it take to foster inspiring leaders, not just through a lucky accident of talent management but year in and year out? To help answer that question, we have been conducting comprehensive research since 2013, using select clients as a test bed. Specifically, we designed an analytical approach to define, measure and develop inspirational skills. Three key questions guided our research:
• What characteristics matter most when it comes to inspiring others?
• How many inspiring behaviours does someone need to demonstrate reliably in order to inspire others, and what pattern of behaviours is the most powerful?
• How can we calibrate the strength of those characteristics in an individual?
While inspiration may seem difficult to decipher, we have identified 33 distinct and tangible attributes that are statistically significant in creating inspiration in others. The good news: Having just four of these attributes as distinguishing strengths is sufficient to make someone highly inspiring. Our findings also demonstrate that people who inspire are incredibly diverse, and that any combination of distinguishing strengths can work. There is no fixed archetype of an inspirational leader.