Posted by: Hysam Darwan | December 25, 2013

What One Critical Competency Do Leaders Need

By Nicholas Pell | Nov 29, 2011


Leaders can do without any other competency except one.

Leaders in an organization have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. However, no leader can do without an ability to inspire others. Find out why.

What Do Leaders Do?

Leaders aren’t leaders in an abstract way. Leaders are leaders of men in your organization. They lead them to do things and perform their best. Regardless of how they do this, this is the primary quality anyone in a leadership position has. It manifests itself a number of different ways, but inspiration is what it all boils down to.

Manifestation of Inspiration

Manifestation of inspiration means the various ways that inspiration plays out in the workplace. For example, some ways leaders use inspiration in the workplace include:

  • Convincing members of the team that the company vision is both attainable and worth attaining.
  • Getting even the most difficult team members to fall in line and do things they don’t want to do.
  • Convincing key team members to work overtime, often unpaid.
  • Helping team members to aspire to be more effective than they already are.
  • Recruiting members of other organizations away to work for your company.
  • Keeping attrition to a minimum after wage or benefit cuts.

These all fall under the rubric of inspiration. Leaders can do this because they inspire some feeling in others. Whether it’s confidence, admiration, loyalty or even fear definitely matters. Business, after all, is not the mob where it’s better to be feared than respected. However, the final result is the same. What’s more, the best leaders can use either confidence, admiration, loyalty or fear to get the job done. Indeed, the cream of leadership knows what a specific situation calls for and uses that.

Exemplars of Inspiration

You’re likely thinking of leaders in your organization who have the ineffable quality of inspiration. History provides us with many exemplars of inspiration:

  • Lyndon Baines Johnson: LBJ was known for “The Johnson Treatment” during his years in the Senate. He would seamlessly shift from cajoling to threats to tears depending on what the situation called for.
  • “Stonewall” Jackson: Civil War-era general “Stonewall” Jackson inspired troops with his bravery. His nickname is derived from his ability to stay as calm as a stone wall during the hairiest battles.
  • Martin Luther King: Martin Luther King inspired people to great personal sacrifice. The stakes were far greater than any people in your company are likely to encounter, including personal safety.
  • King Leonidas: The famous Spartan king immortalized in 300 is also an exemplar of inspiration. Leading a small contingent of Greek soldiers, he held off a superior Persian force, even though his men knew they would not survive.

While many of these exemplars of inspiration existed in extreme circumstances, they provide models for just what inspiration can help a leader do.

Not The Only Important Quality

Inspiration isn’t the only quality a leader needs. It is, however, a quality that every leader needs. Whether it’s just the ability to inspire your team to get through another hard day, this is what separates the leaders from the worker bees.


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