To Be Inspiring, First Be Yourself

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

If you want to be a more inspirational leader, as do most of my clients, you first have to be inspired. It’s natural to think of inspirational role models who’ve helped ignite your passion for what you do (whether you own your own business or toil in the service of an organization) and think, “I want to do what he does,” or “I want to be more like her.” That might work… but a lot of the time, it doesn’t.

Put twenty earnest leaders in a room, and you’ll have twenty different “right answers” on how to be more inspirational. I know – I’ve done it many times. And when you have leaders work together for a few days and then ask each other what they found inspiring about their colleagues, the answers generally cause everything from mild surprise to stunning revelation.


The guy who’s been inspired by the thundering “evangelist” type, and who’s trying to pull off the same style without the tool kit (or grey hair) wielded by his role model, is often disappointed to learn he’s not inspiring his colleagues – who are really looking for inspiration in him. Meanwhile, the reserved woman who’s done nothing all week but execute her work, quietly encourage her teammates, and listen well to what her colleagues had to say – she’s usually stunned to find she’s the most inspiring leader in the room.

I’m not saying “loud” or speech-making inspiration doesn’t work – it does, for many leaders. But the folks for whom that style works are the ones who found their own loud voice as a true part of their personality, not the people who wear the style like a theatrical costume.

Think about all the people who’ve inspired you, and try to make a list of the attributes, actions, and words they used to make you want to excel. If someone did something that really inspired you to be your best, it’s obviously a legitimate “tool” of inspirational leadership… but that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for you as you seek to inspire others. Borrow from other leaders, sure, but make certain you never stray far from the center of the person you are.

Not that it’s easy, but the best (and most simple) way to inspire others is to stay inspired yourself, and let the natural event of role-modeling “do the work.” True, you can skill-up, especially with excellent leadership coaching (give me a call, if you like). But you have to start from your authentic self. If you lose that center, you’re not going to inspire a lot of great things from a lot of teammates.

 Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.Those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make money “one less thing to worry about” can learn more about working with Michael at wanting to jump-start their vitality can browse through the best (and most travel-friendly) nutraceuticals on the market at and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at
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