10 steps to becoming an Inspirational leader

Mel Healy
May 30, 2016

Mel Healy

Founder & CEO of Mel Healey & Company, Former Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company

I have been asked over the years what it takes to become an inspirational leader. I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from many leaders who have inspired me. I truly believe anyone who wants to become an inspirational leader, can. But, it takes commitment and hard work. Here are 10 steps that will help you on your journey to becoming an inspirational leader.

  1. Have an inspiring, purposeful vision that is meaningful to you, your organization and will build your business. Then give it life and pursue it with passion, purpose, positivity, grit, and integrity.
  2. Be authentic, be you. Get to know yourself and understand your consistent strengths (your talents) then learn to operate from them. Be human, genuine, humble and real. Bringing your whole self to work and leading from your strengths will help you deliver better results more consistently for you and your team.
  3. Model the way - you are the culture of your organization. Never forget the effect you have on your people. Walk your talk. Set the tone you want your organization to work in. Create the smell of the place. This takes a lot of work - it doesn't just happen and it can't be delegated. It must be led from the top - from you.
  4. Pick your team as if casting for a play - Its all about fit - get the right people in the right jobs. Carefully picking the people with the right skills, expertise, qualities and strengths needed for each specific role on your team is hard work but it will propel your business, your organization and your vision and strategic choices in a way that is magical and motivating for all. Create a team that complements each other. Pick experts and out of the box thinkers who will challenge you to be better. Seek out diverse team members (different backgrounds, genders, experiences, nationalities, ethnicities and ways of thinking) and then value their perspectives - include them. Make sure they know they belong.
  5. Make it your goal to make your people the most successful they can be - Help and enable them to deliver their best. Get to know them more each day and leverage their strengths and appreciate their uniqueness. Champion your top talent. Build their self confidence but not overconfidence. Enable them to win. Help them take risks, move out of their comfort zones into their courage zones. If they fail, help them learn and understand why they failed. Support them and quickly help them succeed again.
  6. Create a climate of trust with a strong dose of courage, care, respect, positivity and team work - It's tough to have encourage a culture of courage, care, respect, collaboration without the presence of trust in an organization. So, how do you create trust: 1) Trust starts with you - Do people trust you as the leader? Are you leading with integrity and knowledge/expertise? If not, go back and do your part first; 2) Are you pursuing the right goals, objectives and strategies and is the road map to success clear to you and your organization? Make sure it is clear to everyone. And, 3) Is there trust in how your systems and work processes work? and how the work/job gets done? When these 3 elements of trust are solid, you are well on your way to creating a climate of trust, courage, collaboration, care and respect.
  7. Do the right thing always – integrity is everything. Have the courage of your convictions and the perseverance to make the right things happen. Reputations take years to build and seconds to destroy. There is no substitute for character and integrity. The world is small. There is no hiding.
  8. Don't be discouraged for long. Get back to positivity fast. Keep a healthy sense of humor. Remember everyone is watching you. If you are discouraged for a day or too, people will understand and help bring you back. If you are discouraged for too long, they lose confidence in you. Remember your victories, re-energize yourself and re-gain your confidence and your courage to lead and be the best you can be.
  9. Avoid the fatal flaws like the plague – You will never be inspirational to anyone if you possess these fatal flaws: lack of character/integrity, not listening, not empathizing, lack of self awareness, and plain self-interest and arrogance. Pick someone on your team who you trust and ask them to tell you if they ever spot any of these. Give them permission to tell you if they see it and fix it fast.
  10. Deliver extraordinary results - Set stretching (and achievable) goals. Work hard and have the strength, courage, determination and resilience to lead the change that needs to happen. Be clear on what success looks like, communicate your expectations clearly to your team and have the grit to deliver it.
Mel Healy

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