Monkey Puzzle Blog

Inspirational leadership

Inspirational leadership - it’s all about the human touch

You are in a leadership position, but it’s your ability to bring your people with you that will see your visions become reality.

So, how can you get the right response from your people at a time when it matters more than ever? In our view, much relies on a more human style of leadership. We think this has always been at the core of well led organisations. It’s about creating a real connection, one that people choose to follow simply because they want to.

What attributes do you need? We look at what makes a successful and inspirational leader through five key behavioural traits. And we start with some good news.

Great leaders can be made

Some might say that leaders are born and not made, it’s in the genes. We strongly disagree. If you are open, honest and can gain trust from others, you have the potential to develop into a very good one.

Listening inspires confidence

Good leaders listen to opinion and feedback if they are to engage their people in what their vision looks like. Feeling like they have a voice gives people the confidence that their views count - and this too gives them confidence in their leaders. Many are re-evaluating how they feel about their organisations post-pandemic, so it matters. At the same time, while a leader should be open to the input of others, they should also have confidence in their vision. Listening to others while staying on track with your own ideas can be difficult and it is an important balance to find.

Showing courage

Leadership is about taking calculated risks - whether that be on strategy, markets or people. Listening to the feedback of others can inform what some of those decisions might be, but it’s you, the leader, that has to take them. We think this comes down to having the courage of your convictions. You will have the necessary confidence to do what you believe is right for your direction or business model, even though other people may not agree or approve. Last year we wrote about the leadership style of Gareth Southgate who, despite ‘expert’ opinions everywhere, is the one who has to make the final decisions and put his reputation on the line. He listens, he explains, but ultimately has the confidence in his own ideas and sticks with them.

Future focused and flexible

The ability to look to the future is core to being a good leader. That’s because leaders need to be driven by long-term goals, not distracted by short term ‘quick wins’, current noise or irrelevant issues. Now more than ever, leaders have to fix onto a long term vision to take their people and organisations to a sustainable future, as that’s the only form of future that will last. What’s more, countless studies show that leaders who focus on the long term outcome achieve more. So, regardless of how small these steps appear, if they are the right steps towards the right goals, keep taking them. Flexibility is also key: as we have seen during the past two years, life is full of hurdles. So it is important that you are able to encounter unprecedented obstacles, and be resourceful and confident enough to accommodate them and carry on towards your goal.

If you say it, mean it

At a time of uncertainty, people want clarity as well as guidance, which means it’s OK when all the answers aren’t that obvious. It’s better to be open and upfront, rather than evasive. People need to know where they stand, even if they don’t necessarily like what they hear. The tough thing about authenticity is that there is no way to learn it, and it must come organically, and it simply involves being you. In practical terms, this means applying a 'you' filter to every working day, and allowing your own personality to be integrated into your day to day behaviours, naturally. Any contrived behaviour will be instantly noticeable to those around you. We’d even say that in times of increased awareness of mental health, those leaders that can be upfront with their own challenges are likely, through their authenticity, to help others feel more able to do the same.

Real relationships

The reality is that human relationships are complex, and aren't always smooth sailing, but provided these relationships are genuine and honest, you can move forward. It’s about fostering and maintaining relationships that are focused on cooperation towards common goals and mutual respect. Organisations have had to show a lot more trust these past two years and being able to do this isn’t always something that comes naturally to a leader who likes a certain degree of control. However, those relationships are probably now stronger and more ‘real’ as a result. As long as you are aligned with what is required, and you are determined to achieve the same results, the strength of that relationship will help you lead well.

In conclusion

A leader that can take their people with them both inspires confidence as well as possessing it themselves. They can listen to others and yet still have the courage of their own convictions when it’s time to take the most difficult decisions. It’s also about sticking with the long game despite what may be thrown at you in the short term. Underpinning all of this is a more authentic and human approach. That’s because it’s the strength of the relationships you build that will take you towards where you want to be.

Further reading

Our book ‘Real Leaders for the Real World’ is all about what makes successful and authentic leaders. Download the first chapter for free from our website. No registration is required.

If you want to discover the true leader you really can be, our Leadership Development Programmes can help.

Real Leaders Survey

Have your say on what makes real leaders

If you’ve read this article, you may well have your own views on what makes a good leader. If so, we’d welcome your thoughts for the 2nd edition of our award winning book ‘Real Leaders for the Real World’. If you are a leader at any level we would really appreciate your insight. Please take the survey here - It will take only 10 mins to complete.

How Can We help?

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If you’d like our support in making these ideas work for you and your business, please get in touch.

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