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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Nicholas

Inspirational leadership


During one of our recent 1:1 sessions, a client voiced concern about receiving constructive criticism from a few peers about his inspirational leadership. Because leaders viewed as inspirational are highly revered in his environment, he was troubled by the evaluation and motivated to shore up his deficit.


I invited him to share the characteristics of inspirational leadership as defined in his environment and we captured the descriptors as he rattled them off. To compare, I then asked if he would be interested in seeing a list of traits compiled by Bain & Company in a recent study. He agreed.


After reviewing the Bain list, he asserted his firm's leaders had work to do, that they were only emphasizing a small subset of the 33 traits. We then talked through some options to level up the organization.


A few months later, he reported he had partnered with the CPO to expand the culture's understanding of inspirational leadership. He had even volunteered to be the first senior leader to participate in the HR-led initiative to formally socialize the broader definition. His goal was for his team to model this for the enterprise and help bring everyone else along.


Inspirational leadership in action.


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