Aspire to Inspire

I didn’t have a flair for good luck getting to the top; I worked things out, with sweat blood and tears to reach my post. Now my way to pay it forward is through this: my very own SOS (Sharing of Style).

I’m compelled to share my recent observation on how crucial “inspiring leaders” are. They have taken the lead over brilliant innovation and financial savvy.

I’ve heard, seen and witnessed highly enthusiastic and seemingly indispensable talents walk out of the boardrooms for lack of inspiration.  I took the time to figure out how it ended and so I learned.

It has been revealed in papers and in several true-to-life scenarios that people leave their bosses, not their jobs. When people don’t see very clear directions, role models and sources of inspiration, they hang up their gloves and move on.

In this corporate world full of disengaged individuals, we need more effective leaders — inspiring leaders. Inspiring leaders touch lives, lead by example and breathe service from the heart. They don’t just boss everybody around or bluntly display power over others. They leave a lasting taste of sweetness called “appreciation” that leads to deeper relationship. For them, it’s not the position, it’s the contribution.

Inspiring leaders pay tribute to individuality, and they believe in unity in diversity. As a consequence, people choose to move in the same intensity, style and direction as their leader. In synergy, they get things done, extraordinarily.

Inspiring leaders LEAD: listen, emphasize, act with timeliness.

The other type does otherwise. They get the results they want, but people are mobilized out of fear.  Outputs are quick wins and short term.

I came across some leaders falling from the top because they simply can’t relate and behave rightly, consistently. They don’t seem to give enough time to listen. They get busy dominating the conversation and expressing themselves. They are the so-called “perspiring” leaders. They use their minds, but not their hearts.

So what does it take to be an inspiring leader?

I’ve noted dominant character traits of inspiring resilient leaders who don’t just naturally hone and keep talents, but pave the way to exponential growth by unleashing innate potential. These leaders have helped upgrade the professional and personal lives of those they come in close contact with.

  1. Inspiring leaders spot what’s right. They catch people right on track. They instill greatness by generously appreciating small things. They thrive on optimism. I’m uber blessed to realize that all hardships and heartaches are meant not to break but to re-make you. People generally draw strength from their leaders and superiors. As a time-tested cheerleader, I decided to add to my daily routine counting and uploading people’s contribution. I take time to give positive feedback and reinforcement to assure people that they mean a lot to me.
  2. Inspiring leaders are patient. They know that patience is a virtue. Inspiring leaders do feel bad, dismayed or exhausted over half-baked work output, but they can instantly turn this into learning sessions. They coach, mentor, and lead by example, provide constructive criticism and patiently wait for more desirable results. I still can’t imagine I can now point out areas for improvement without fear of humiliating the person, by focusing on the action, not on the person.
  3. Inspiring leaders are heavenly down-to-earth. They know that leadership is a way of life. It’s a calling, a way of evangelizing. There is no illusion of grandeur. They deep dive especially when times are hard. At the end of the game, they don’t take credit but applaud the good work. They don’t live for today but live today for eternity. They know they don’t have the monopoly of knowledge; they also make mistakes, they can be rejected and they welcome all types of comments. In my case, instead of whining why I need to work on the nitty gritty at my level, I found joy in making up and bridging gaps. When I hear unpleasant remarks, I try to extract the most valid and use it for self-enhancement.
  4. Inspiring leaders balance things out. They’re flexible but firm. They customize their approach and apply different strokes for different folks, but one rule applies to all. Fairness is a principle they don’t neglect nor ignore. They make sure rules are well-defined and displayed. They say “no” convincingly, charismatically, sincerely, and in a timely manner. After years of experience, I feel so blessed to have had the chance to juggle and improve my ways. I learned from peers, followers, and bashers. I can say “No” aside from “Why not?” while sticking to my values, ethics, and beliefs.
  5. Inspiring leaders embrace equanimity. They choose peace over panic. They start the day right and sustain it until late at night. The energy is constant and challenges act as vitamins — opportunities to learn and be of help. With all the roller coaster and peaks and valleys, I have proven over time and there’s no sense worrying or passing on the blame. It is more important to hit it on the spot, with grace and art. After all, if anything will go wrong, it will.
  6. Inspiring leaders excel in FUN. They live in the moment and enjoy every minute of it. Instead of aiming for milestones, they focus on moments of good deeds and the amount of lessons they learn. Their definition of FUN is forward, upward, non-stop. They have no hang ups; everything works to their advantage. They know the meaning of not winning all the time but learning and getting better every step of the way. I also realize that the way to be happy is to get busy with productive things and to stay close with equal minds and warm bodies.
  7. Inspiring leaders move from success to significance. They are after the meaning of life and the legacy they would leave behind. To them, harmonious connection is more important than financial gain. Belongingness and interdependence are far better than reaping rewards and immediate gratification. It’s a bit strange to note that I don’t long for material incentives as heavily as I did before. It doesn’t matter if I’m adequately compensated or not. I’ve reached the point of loving what I do, that touching lives and uplifting spirits will never equate with any amount of earthly gain.
  8. Inspiring leaders master the battlefield. They conquer the arena by self mastery and working in synergy. They’re dedicated to their craft and don’t easily give up. Inspiring leaders are poised to purpose: to win. They know they can’t do things alone but they can do a lot with the rest so they count on their counterparts. They allow peers to explore and make some errors. They don’t blame, they are contained. They empower every team member but take the lead and overall accountability. They are both team leaders and team players. They play the game fair and square. On the lighter side, just like they know how to fight a fight, they know how to take a break. They smile at strangers, joke around and laugh out loud even in the middle of highly complex situations. In my case, whenever I’m called to join the frontliners or face difficult situations head on, I reminisce and recall how I overcome all the barriers in the past and landed on top. “Management by walking around” (MBWA) has always been my favorite, one of the surefire ways to lead a high performance team.
  9. Inspiring leaders are adventurers. They’re never contented, never complacent and they never ever sit on their laurels. They don’t rest and are addicted to winning. They are always curious, time bound and straightforward. Their enthusiasm is always as high as during their Day 1 at work. They dare to explore and challenge the norm, never afraid of anyone nor of any consequence. For me, I discovered that changes are chances to level up, a chance to outstretch and outsmart my previous accomplishments and time to shine. I am so grateful and privileged to have been exposed to countless exciting opportunities.
  10. Inspiring leaders know who the real CEO is. They work hard and smart but they still hope for divine intervention. They rely on God’s wisdom and mercy. They guard their thoughts, words and works. They do their work conscientiously. Their energy radiates from the greatest power and they are confident that with pure heart and sound mind, everything will fall into places. They acknowledge that leading people is a gift from God and a profession of love. Personally, in my more than 25 years of corporate experience, my mantra remains: “You can’t sell a product that you don’t love.” Similarly, this also means you can’t coach people you don’t love. You can’t stay with people for long if you don’t care enough. My other reminder is the Parable of Talents that says we all should take care of what God has entrusted to us. I am guided by the principle, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

I am committed to everyday greatness by looking around, counting the reasons why I should live to the max and how I can rejoice and re-learn. Along with counting of blessings is sharing of joy and style. By sharing my thoughts and giving a portion of myself every single moment, I find peace and happiness, and most of all, inspiration.

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