Inspirational Leadership

What does this look like in the workplace?

By Theodore Braimah


Describing leaders as having inspirational, motivational, and influential qualities is quite usual but the application in a real workspace is what makes the difference because performance and delivery is what leadership means.

The following attributes when demonstrated at work will evidence what inspirational leadership is all about.


Openness – managing people by allowing open conversations allows a leader to see and feel what it looks like to be managed. Honest conversations on bottlenecks, conflicts and limitations will trigger continuous process improvement. Stifling such conversations may see an unexplained exit of staff due to their inability to be part of the bigger picture.


Approachable – having access to a manager who will not just judge but listens is a must have quality. Team members should feel free to discuss pay, promotion and mental health issues without any fear of condemnation or labelling.


Trustworthy – trust should not undermine scrutiny and accountability, but they should work hand in hand. Tough questions need to be asked by managers. However, when answers have been provided, staff should feel confident that the information provided will be held in trust. Whistleblowing thrives in an environment where trust has been earned.


Prioritizing learning and upskilling – a manager will struggle with a brood of incompetent staff. Inspirational leaders train and empower staff to work independently. Covering holidays and absences with no dissatisfied client on return is what leadership is about. This is achieved through information sharing, job shadowing and process documentation.


Empowering decision making – facilitating decision making with the participation of team members and giving autonomy makes direct reports feel important and relevant.


Credibility – genuine care for colleagues will earn a manager credibility. Asking about issues that matter to them and empathising will make workers feel that they are not just tools or means to an end but actual humans with an everyday challenge that they must overcome.


Reliability – providing support to other colleagues in line with the organisation’s policy will speed service delivery. Collaborating and engaging to solve problems across teams will booster teamwork if players know that when they need extra support it will be provided without hesitation.


Proactive – managers that think ahead will stay on top of issues. Anticipation and preparation for the unforeseen is essential. Reacting to events is a sign that foresight is absent but preventing the event and getting ready to avoid, transfer or manage the inevitable is a good leadership quality.


Values achievement – recognition of milestones and even baby steps taken by colleagues will inspire them to strive for more.


Influencing – appealing to the hearts of colleagues by doing and getting involved in the job is leadership. Exemplary leaders get their hands dirty to get the work done.