Avatar photo

Inspirational Leadership – what it takes.

What is it that makes an inspirational leader? If we can identify the components of an inspirational leader, can this be developed? Dr John Pates, sports psychologist, has conducted a new study that is about to be published into the traits of inspirational leaders.

We all have inspirational role models, but when we try to explain why these people inspire us, our descriptions are usually broad and general. Dr Pates and his team set out to explore the behaviours and characteristics of inspirational people. There has been much research into the effects of inspiration, but empirical knowledge about what makes an inspirational person is lacking.

The definition of inspiration is interesting in it’s own right; Elliot (1997) said “inspiration is a feeling evoked from an experience that is often so powerful it can awaken new realms of possibilities and transcend us from our current preoccupations.”

inspirational leadership quote picture for blog

In this new piece of research, Dr Pates, devised a 75-item questionnaire based on previous models of inspirational people. 460 participants completed this, and the results factor analysed. Following this, the traits of an inspirational leader can be summarised into 9 factors within 2 categories:

Individual traits, motivate and inspire self:

  • Insatiable desire to constantly improve performance levels and achieve success.
  • Inherently and proactively motivated to achieve goals.
  • Being passionate, showing intense enthusiasm and energy for your work.
  • Showing commitment and having a strong psychological attachment to your vision.
  • Being reliable, creative, pursuing new opportunities and working hard.

Relationship Traits, to motivate and inspire others:

  • Offering stability and direction so others can follow a meaningful path.
  • Gives hope, courage and faith so others feel positive about their future.
  • Evokes a positive energy that motivates others to achieve their own goals.
  • Instils confidence, with a strong belief in the strengths and abilities of others.

This new model is interesting as it allows for growth;¬†through awareness, these traits appear developable. If someone has the goal to become an inspirational leader, I now have a coaching road map to guide this developmental journey. Another interesting point is that the traits describe the outcome of what an inspirational leader does, rather than ‘how’ they do it. This is important as it enables people to find their own authentic and genuine way to develop inspirational leadership.

Dr Pates, (Linked In contact details here) is now working to develop a psychometric tool to measure inspirational leadership.

These traits seem as relevant to an inspirational coach as they are to an inspirational business leader. If you were to assess yourself against the factors above, what would this say to you?

This is a very new model, so post your thoughts in our linked In Group.