Inspirational Leadership

What are the defining characteristics of an ‘Inspirational Leader’?

Publication Date: April 2015

This white paper examines what it means to be an ‘Inspirational Leader’ and how this is different to ‘Executive Presence’.

Research exploring leadership strengths and qualities suggests there are many components to ‘successful’ leadership, however little is known about what makes a leader inspirational and what it means to have Executive Presence. Although many businesses seek to promote Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence, a degree of uncertainty remains as to what it means to have Executive Presence and what is required to be an inspirational leader. Here we recognise an inspiring leader as a role model, someone who has the necessary knowledge to create a vision.

On the other hand, Executive Presence relates to the ability to deliver ideas with conviction and confidence, whilst possessing a consistent desire to engage others. In this research, we have identified the key factors underlying Inspirational Leadership and how this differentiates from having Executive Presence.

In an attempt to further understand what constitutes Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence, 196 in-depth interviews were conducted with leaders from a wide range of job roles including: Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Heads of Learning & Development, Business Directors, Partners, Senior Consultants and Global Business Development Managers.

Zircon’s research into Inspirational Leadership & Executive Presence articulates the qualities and attributes associated with Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence, and provides real examples of both characteristics.

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Beth Turner
Head of Learning and Development UK/UAE : Robert Half

Amanda’s delivery was even more engaging and focuses on how she wants the audience to feel. The very poignant stories she told really set the scene, and the end story took the session from informative to extremely inspirational and hopeful.  Having set her stall out as someone who definitely has suffered from Imposter Syndrome early on in the session, to then demonstrate at the end that she categorically now doesn’t (in that area) was very powerful and gave a real sense of belief that we can change and challenge the messages we tell ourselves.

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