What Is an Inspirational Leader? (Plus How To Become One)

Updated 25 April 2023

Inspirational leadership is the ability to be a positive influence on those around you and motivate others toward success. Employees of any experience level can practice inspirational leadership, and being an inspirational leader offers your employees or colleagues opportunities to develop their ambition based on your actions and attitude. Demonstrating leadership typically requires developing certain skills and having specific personal attributes. In this article, we define what the qualities of an inspirational leader are, discuss why it's important to be an inspiring leader, outline the steps to develop inspirational leadership skills, and offer tips for becoming a leader.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

What are the qualities of an inspirational leader?

Inspirational leaders not only drive their team toward exceeding their goals but also motivate each team member toward their own personal best. They often accomplish this by modelling the skills, traits and attitudes that they would like their employees to demonstrate. Here are some of the qualities of an inspiring leader:

  • Positivity: These leaders maintain a positive attitude at work in order to increase office morale. Positivity can be a powerful motivator in a team environment.

  • Gratitude: People are more likely to repeat successful behaviours if they receive thanks for their hard work. By showing gratitude and recognizing how others give you support, you can inspire them to continue utilizing their talents.

  • Curiosity: AnInspiration leader will pursue learning and ask questions regularly. Curiosity can inspire others to seek out opportunities for growth as well.

  • Passion: In order to inspire others, you must have a passion for the work you do and the people you work with. Genuinely caring about your company's mission and the well-being of your team helps to model passion that others can aspire to.

  • Integrity: Integrity shows others that they can rely on your judgment and trust you with sensitive issues. Displaying integrity can create a trusting environment that inspires others to uphold similar values.

  • Tact: Being able to handle a difficult situation with tact and grace can help to inspire others as they encounter challenges. An inspirational leader will model tact to promote open communication and consideration of others.

  • Growth mindset: Leaders who inspire others consistently create opportunities for growth. These leaders demonstrate a growth mindset and encourage those around them to do so as well.

  • Empathy: It's important for leaders to understand the feelings of others. Empathy allows leaders to recognise and process others' feelings, helping them to determine how to best inspire and motivate them.


  • What Are Some of Your Leadership Experiences? With Examples

  • 14 Leadership Qualities That Are Found in Great Leaders

  • How To Say 'Thank You for Your Support' (With Examples)

Why is it important to be an inspirational leader?

Inspirational leaders can empower others to develop a passion for their work and how they accomplish it. They often invest in developing the talent of those around them and can help a business flourish by demonstrating their commitment to their work and values. There are multiple benefits of inspirational leadership, including:

  • Meeting goals: Teams with this type of leader may be more likely to meet and exceed their goals. Inspirational leaders align their work with the values of their team, encouraging others to set ambitious goals and accomplish them consistently.

  • Increased engagement: These leaders promote a clear sense of purpose to their team that helps each individual find more value in their work. By practising inspirational leadership, you can increase overall engagement among your colleagues.

  • Committed employees: When employees see a leader modelling a strong work ethic, they will often aspire to the same level of commitment. Employees enjoy working with people who inspire them, and they may commit to a company largely because of an excellent and inspirational manager.

Related: What Is Motivation in Management? (Examples and Benefits)

How to develop the skills to be an inspirational leader

Each leader is unique. While some have a natural ability to inspire others, others may develop this trait as a soft skill. Here are some steps to follow to help you build your inspirational leadership skills:

1. Get to know your team

Most people appreciate when people make an effort to get to know them, and this can be especially beneficial in the workplace. Learning about your teammates as individuals may help you better understand their personalities, values and work styles or ethics. This is important because different things inspire different people, so knowing more about their individual personalities can help you find unique ways to inspire each team member. By adjusting your leadership style to match their personality and values, they may feel more understood and be more receptive to your guidance and inspiration.

2. Develop core values

Providing a reason for your work and establishing guidelines for completing the work may help you inspire your team. Developing core values and practising them daily will demonstrate to your team the positive change they can create in their own lives and community through their work. Core values refer to fundamental personal values you have that you use to make decisions and inform how you live your life. As you develop core values, reflect on what you learned about your team, and think about what's most important to them in their personal and professional lives.

Some examples of core values include:

  • Acceptance

  • Authenticity

  • Autonomy

  • Community

  • Compassion

  • Diversity

  • Fairness

  • Growth

  • Improvement

  • Innovation

  • Integrity

  • Persistence

  • Responsibility

  • Service

  • Teamwork

  • Work-life balance

Read more: Core Values: Overview and Examples

3. Create trust

Strive to build trust with your coworkers or team members to help you develop better relationships that foster growth both as individuals and as a team. When someone feels they can trust you, they may be more willing to accept your guidance or advice. Another essential component of being an inspirational leader is mentoring, which requires trust between both parties for a successful mentorship. Trust also demonstrates that coworkers pursue success with the best interests of their team in mind and support each other throughout challenges.

Related: How to Build Trust in the Workplace (And Why It's Important)

4. Provide your support

Offer your support to others when they need it, and try to do so before they ask for it. This demonstrates your level of awareness and commitment to their success. By providing your support, you foster a stronger sense of community and inspire others to pursue ambitious tasks. Also, by establishing yourself as a resource, you can motivate others to prioritize their own professional development and take risks they may have otherwise avoided.

5. Be accountable

Take accountability when you need to improve in a specific area. This shows humility and responsibility, and your willingness to learn and improve may inspire others to do the same. Being teachable is especially important if you're in a managerial role because it shows your team you're equally willing to learn. Being accountable also demonstrates your loyalty and dedication to your team and its shared success rather than prioritizing your individual success or personal reputation.

Related: Top 6 Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

6. Celebrate success

Ensure you recognise and celebrate the successes of your entire team and individual members. Avoid accepting the credit for your team's success, and, instead, be sure to highlight specific individuals and how their contributions affected the project's success. This will help others respect you more and it can motivate your team to pursue future success or praise each other's success. As a result, your team members may be more proud of their achievements and feel increasingly motivated to continue to succeed.

Related: How to Create a Positive Culture in the Workplace in 7 Steps

Tips for inspirational leadership

Consider these tips to help you become an inspirational leader:

Align your leadership with your organisation

To be an effective leader, it's important that your leadership style and strategies match your current organisation. Consider your organisation's business model, culture and strategy. Think about how these contribute to your approach as a leader. Developing a leadership style that aligns with these core organisational values may help you inspire others and produce excellent results.

Related: Guide to Company Culture

Model changed behaviour

As a leader, it's essential for you to model the same behaviours you expect your team members to demonstrate. This is especially important for showing your commitment to professional development and accepting feedback on areas of improvement. Similarly, this can motivate others to change their habits so their behaviour better aligns with organisational needs to produce better results.

Consider the timing of choices

Consider how the timing of your choices may affect the results your team achieves. This is particularly important for reinforcing a performance culture. For example, if you notice your team's current performance no longer aligns with organisational values, address it. Halting normal daily tasks in favour of completing additional training and reminding everyone about the organisation's values and mission may lead to a motivated, inspired workforce.

Related Articles

How To Motivate Your Employees With 11 Impactful Strategies

Explore more articles

  • How to Write a Chef Resume (With Template and Example)
  • How to Write a New Graduate Nursing Resume (With a Template)
  • How to Write a Front of House Manager Cover Letter
  • How to Start A Resume (Plus Importance and Example)
  • What Is a Professional Reference? Definition and Templates
  • Strategic Planner Skills (With Definition and Examples)
  • How to Write a Data Analyst Resume (Example and Tips)
  • How to Update Your Resume (With Template and Example)
  • How to Write a Social Worker Cover Letter (With Examples)
  • How to Create a Supermarket Resume (With Tips and Example)
  • How to Write a Luxury Retail Resume (With Template and Tips)
  • How to Write a Cover Letter for Retail: A Step-by-Step Guide