Five Ways to be an Inspiring Leader

by Shannon Donnici

Over the course of my career I have worked with some individuals whom I consider to be inspiring leaders. These are people with charisma, compassion, curiosity and natural confidence. They genuinely motivate and mentor those around them. As a result, their employees willingly and happily follow them out of choice.

I experienced the five consistent traits below working with memorable and motivational leaders. I hope they inspire you to lead well in 2016.

Build relationships

Inspiring leaders are committed to building meaningful relationships. Essential qualities of strong relationships include:

  • Trust. Trust people to do their jobs without unnecessary oversight. This is a true motivator in the work environment.  
  • Empathy. Try to put yourself in the shoes of others to understand their motivations and behaviours.
  • Respect. Be considerate, honest and tactful.
  • Relatability. Understand and appreciate what matters to people by actively listening to them.
  • Openness. Be open to diverse approaches, ideas and opinions. Be willing to change your mind.

Remove distractions

  • Focus on the person speaking, not on yourself.
  • Listen to what is being said and what is not being said.
  • Identify underlying emotions and needs.
  • Show attentiveness and interest through verbal and non-verbal gestures.
  • Clarify what you have heard.

Exude a positive presence

Inspiring leaders have an engaging presence. They have poise, self-assurance and an ability to connect. Try to be conscious and deliberate in all the ways you project to the world, including your:

  • Smile and frequent facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Handshake
  • Body language and posture
  • Manners
  • Level  of e ngagemen

Be a selfless mentor

Generous leaders pay it forward by sharing their time, acumen and wisdom — whether in small, unstructured ways or through more formal processes. Not only do the recipients value this, but it improves engagement and performance.

Engage through visionary thinking

Prescient leaders are strategic. They know the “why, how and what” of their actions both today and in the future. They interest and inspire others who share the same beliefs.

These kinds of leaders understand people crave meaning and purpose. They use that understanding to inspire and motivate through a connection to a common cause or set of goals.

  • Engaging through visionary thinking includes:
  • Creating breakthroughs by being open to new information and diverse thinking
  • Encouraging learning in employees
  • Fostering creativity and problem solving
  • Embracing innovation and new ideas, and the change that comes with them
  • Thin king beyond the here and now — developing leaders for the future.

The values, credibility and forethought of inspiring leaders naturally engage others to be part of their vision and to deliver on an organization’s mandates and objectives.

Challenge yourself to be inspiring in 2016.

Happy New Year!


Shannon Donnici is Wazuku Advisory Group’s Alberta-based Vice President. She is a passionate expert in the fields of leadership, operations and customer experience. Shannon is an established strategic and operational leader with more than 25 years of progressive experience building teams and executing strategies. She is a real advocate for the customer, the employee and quality results to positively influence enterprise brand and profitability.