Typically characterized by their contagious charisma and awe-inspiring presence, great leaders are easy to spot. But what does it take to be more than just a great leader — to be a leader who motivates and inspires across geographies and throughout time? Answering this question begins with examining some of the most extraordinary leaders of our time. By understanding these three secrets for effective leadership, you’ll be one step closer to transforming your great leadership into something profound and extraordinary.
True leadership is earned through honest action and hard work.
Leadership is a quality that must be earned and maintained through deliberate actions that inform and inspire. Consider the incredible story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who spoke out in support of education for girls in the taliban-occupied Swat valley. After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, Malala’s story of determination influenced an outpouring of activist support that eventually led to the establishment of stronger educational rights in Pakistan. Malala’s courageous actions and strong beliefs show that leadership isn’t simply given based on where you come from or what you have. If you aspire to be a great leader, you need to take action towards a cause that motivates and inspires you personally. On a business leadership level this will give people a reason to trust your direction. It will also elevate your personal brand to something that people are inspired by, and aspire to be like.
Power should always be used to benefit the greater good.
The only way to continue inspiring those you lead is to use your power in a transparent way that benefits others. JK Rowling, who was a struggling single mom on welfare when she penned the first book in the Harry Potter series, proves the importance of distributing one’s power for the greater good. After her dramatic rise to billionaire status, she donated so much of her money to charity that she effectively lost that status. Rowling is now seen as a leader for giving back and doing good, and she sets a strong moral example that all of her fans can follow and be inspired by. Donating to charity may not seem like a particularly revolutionary idea in itself, but in the context of leadership and power, it certainly is. Remember modern pharmaceutical mischief-maker Martin Shkreli — who used his power to hike the price of a lifesaving drug over 5,000%? Leaders abuse their power in this manner every single day, oftentimes behind closed doors. Maintaining a sense of humility towards your fellow humans is a small, yet powerful component of leadership that lasts — and it sets you apart from leaders who misuse their power.
Empathy is the key to effective leadership.
When people trust in their leader, they’re much more willing to work hard towards a goal that makes them feel accomplished. Many leaders think that high-profile status or proof of power is all they need to be trusted by their employees. In reality, trust from those you lead is a two-way street, and it starts by offering a great deal of empathy. The idea of empathy in leadership has been widely popularized by Dr. Brené Brown, who explains the importance of vulnerability in human relationships. People in leadership positions need to lead by example by being vulnerable through the frequent sharing of their own aspirations, desires, and needs. This forges a strong trust of and towards the leader, which in turn makes people feel comfortable sharing their own desires. As a result, this cultivates within your people a deep desire to work hard, accomplish their goals, and feel proud.