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What Makes Leaders Inspirational To People?

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Despite what might be going on in the world around you, the people who we look up to as leaders tend to be people that we admire and, in the most part, who inspire us. This might be by inspiring us to be better experts in our fields or just by them showing us what is possible for us in the future. But what is it in particular that makes leaders have that inspirational spark that keeps us coming back for more? Let’s have a look.


Like it not, leaders are normally pretty charismatic. Whether that’s the cheesy executive style of charisma (finger guns are normally apparent) or just knowing how to approach different people in a way that’ll get the desired result, all leaders need some level of charisma. Sorry, but no one is following Beige Barry into a boardroom battle.

Okay, so you might not naturally have ten tonnes of charisma, you might actually be a highly introverted person, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. Charisma is all about confidence and bravado - the more you use it, the more natural it will become. Start small, in your next team meeting don’t just stick to your Powerpoint script, try and riff off the room a bit - bring in anecdotes that work with your spiel, and bring some life into something that is traditionally formulaic.

Extraordinary Experiences

Okay, so this doesn’t mean that you’ve gone and climbed Everest backwards and blindfolded or solved the maths behind world hunger, it just means that you’ve got an achievement (or achievements) that others would like to be able to emulate one day, or that they wished they had. For instance, you might be a published authority in your field, you might have collaborated with household names, or you might have even founded the business that they’re working in.

By having these experiences, you become the example of what is possible and that can be a powerful motivator for employees. Also, it makes you someone who has been there and done that, which could also be useful when mentoring members of staff - something that all great, inspiring leaders should aim to do (you’re not going to be in charge forever after all!).

Be Human

Again, not something we see a lot in our modern leaders, but actually acting like a semi-decent human being is the cornerstone in being an inspirational leader. Ask your employees what’s going on in their life. Be reasonable in your expectations and give them a chance to show you what they’re made of. Inspiration can only take your employees so far if you’re not giving them the opportunities to emulate you eventually.

And look, they’re not going to take your job if you let them lead a project or pitch an idea to the team, especially if you’re supporting them through it. Besides, what’s the point in being an inspirational leader if your employees aren’t inspired to better themselves and try something innovative and exciting?

In the end, being an inspirational leader should just boil down to being a good leader. If you’re a supportive, confident, boss with some decent experiences behind you, then rallying the troops and inspiring them should be second nature. Don’t overthink it, don’t go full TED talk on them with Instagram quotes, and just be a decent leader. The inspiration will follow soon.

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H. Mark Meijer, a native of the Netherlands, resides permanently in New York City Metro since 2018 and is the President of Management & Consulting and specializes in post M&A turnaround of mid-sized PE portfolio companies with a footprint in NW Europe, the Netherlands and USA.

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