Eight Ways Leaders Inspire Us

Guest post from Andy Cunningham:

Great leaders inspire others to take action. They confer a feeling of meaningful contribution. And they seek to improve the human condition. They come in many different flavors, but they all have one thing in common: followers. The reason for this is that somehow, some way, they inspire those around them. Here are eight of the ways.

1. Vision: Some leaders, like Steve Jobs, have the power to see what’s next and with that power they attract people who are committed to changing the world and adopting that as a lifestyle. Tee shirts worn by members of the Macintosh team in the early 1980s boasted “90 hours a week and loving it.”

 2. A Worthy Cause: Appealing to an inner sense of social responsibility with a point of view makes leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, amass followers who want to make a difference. Her opinions on important social issues such as gender discrimination, abortion, and search and seizure have been the catalyst for a virtual RBG movement.

3. Superior Talent: People who choose to work with leaders who possess off-the-charts talent, like Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony who has won 10 Grammy awards, do so with the hope that some of that talent will rub off and make them better at their craft. A former child prodigy and third generation artist, Tilson Thomas was awarded with the National Medal of Arts in 2010 by President Obama.

4. Self Improvement: Leaders like Suze Orman, who was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes, provide powerful and personal incentive for people to reach beyond themselves and gain control of their financial lives.

5. Team Building: Some leaders just know how to build teams that move mountains; and they do, even in the presence of failure. Repeatedly facing insurmountable odds, Elon Musk, entrepreneur, investor and inventor, attracts people who are challenged by naysayers. 

6. Winning: Those who create cooperatively functioning groups offering members the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves tap into a spirit that unites people in a common purpose. Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, which has the highest all-time NBA regular season win-loss record percentage, knows how to put a team together, how to win and how keep a fan base engaged. 

7. Tribal Affiliation: Because humans are tribal by their very nature, leaders who offer a sense of belonging, like Mark Benioff of the immense Salesforce ecosystem, gather up people in droves with their influence and inspiration. In Benioff’s case he went a step further and applied his charisma and leadership to inspire other leaders to move from success to significance.

8. Opportunity: Advocating equal opportunity for women, leaders like Gloria Steinem, social activist, author and entrepreneur, inspire millions with courage and bravery and manage to change the status quo to create opportunity for others.

About the Author:
Andy Cunningham is the founder and president of Cunningham Collective, a marketing, brand and communication strategy firm dedicated to bringing innovation to market. She is also the author of Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition (McGraw-Hill). An entrepreneur at the forefront of marketing, branding, positioning and communicating “The Next Big Thing,” Andy has played a key role in the launch of a number of new technology categories and products (including the Apple Macintosh) over the past 35 years. Today she advises startups, serves on several corporate boards, is a Henry Crown Fellow and a trustee at the Aspen Institute.