Business Leadership Today

Developing Inspiring Leaders: How to Teach Leadership Development


Matt Tenney, Author of Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process

Leadership development has become a crucial component of any successful organization’s strategic plan. 

It’s like the beating heart of any successful organization, pumping life into innovation, collaboration, and strategic goal achievement. But it’s not about learning managerial skills or being a strategic genius. 

As author and Business Leadership Today contributor Ciara Ungar points out, the key to building inspired teams is developing inspirational leaders. For this reason, the essence of leadership development lies in creating awe-inspiring leaders who ignite a fire within their teams that helps them reach their full potential.

Inspirational leaders are visionaries who lead by example, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, empathy in understanding their team’s needs, and integrity in their actions. These leaders do not just manage their teams; they inspire them to achieve greatness.

To transform managers into inspiring leaders requires developing their leadership skills beyond basic competencies and instilling the idea that a leader’s main job is to inspire their teams to greatness and create the necessary conditions for them to thrive. 

Teaching leadership development effectively requires the following critical steps:

  • Reminding leaders of their primary role
  • Identifying employee needs
  • Gathering feedback
  • Responding to feedback quickly

This article will outline the steps to train leaders to fulfill their most important role: inspiring greatness. We will delve into the characteristics of inspirational leaders, discuss the impact of inspirational leadership on teams, and provide practical strategies for developing such leaders. 

The Essence of Inspirational Leadership

An inspirational leader is not just a person in a position of power but someone who inspires others through their actions, words, and beliefs. Inspirational leadership involves leading by example, motivating and influencing your team members to reach their full potential, and contributing to the organization’s overall success. 

Being an inspirational leader means embodying certain key traits that set these individuals apart:


Inspirational leaders have a clear, compelling vision of the future. They can articulate this vision in a compelling and engaging way, inspiring their team to strive toward this vision.


Inspirational leaders show genuine care for their team members. They understand and share the feelings of others, creating an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.


Inspirational leaders demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity. They view challenges as opportunities for growth and are able to bounce back from setbacks, inspiring their team to do the same.


Inspirational leaders act with integrity. They are honest, transparent, and consistent in their actions, fostering a culture of trust within their team.

These traits are not inherent; they are developed over time. By understanding and cultivating these traits, one can embark on the journey to becoming an inspirational leader capable of inspiring their team to greatness.

The Impact of Inspirational Leadership on Teams

Inspirational leaders have a profound impact on their teams. They create an environment that fosters motivation, engagement, and a sense of purpose. Their influence can propel a team to achieve greatness, surpassing their own expectations and achieving extraordinary results.

Inspirational leaders motivate their teams in several ways:

Setting Clear Goals

They set clear and challenging goals for their teams. These goals give direction and purpose, motivating team members to strive for excellence.

Empowering Team Members

Inspirational leaders empower their team members. They delegate responsibilities, trust their team’s abilities, and encourage them to make decisions. This empowerment boosts the team’s confidence and motivation.

Recognizing and Appreciating Efforts

They recognize and appreciate the efforts of their team members. This recognition fosters a positive work environment, boosting the team’s morale and motivation.

Leading by Example

Inspirational leaders lead by example. Their actions inspire their teams to emulate their behavior and strive for greatness.

Teaching Leadership Development

Teaching leadership development is a multifaceted process involving various methods and strategies. It’s not just about imparting knowledge; it’s also about fostering the right mindset and cultivating the necessary skills.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is one of the most effective ways to teach leadership development. This involves learning through reflection on doing, which allows leaders to learn from their experiences and apply their knowledge in real-world situations. Role-playing, simulations, and on-the-job training can provide valuable experiential learning opportunities.


Mentoring is another crucial aspect of leadership development. Having a mentor provides leaders with a role model to emulate and a trusted advisor to turn to for guidance. Mentors can provide invaluable insights and feedback, helping leaders to grow and develop.

Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback is essential for leadership development. Regular feedback allows leaders to understand their strengths and areas for improvement. It encourages self-reflection and constant learning, which are key to leadership development.

Self-Directed Learning

Encouraging self-directed learning can also be beneficial. This can involve reading books on leadership, attending conferences, or even taking online courses. Self-directed learning allows leaders to take ownership of their development and learn at their own pace.

Training Programs

Formal training programs, workshops, and seminars can also be beneficial. These programs can provide leaders with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills they need to lead effectively.

How To Develop Inspirational Leaders

Effective leadership development involves imparting the understanding that a leader’s primary responsibility is to motivate their teams to achieve greatness and create a supportive environment that empowers them to succeed. 

Creating a system of continuous improvement for leaders can help them learn this skill and keep employees consistently motivated and inspired to do great work. 

To cultivate these skills and keep employees inspired, it is essential to remind leaders of their role, identify employee needs, gather feedback, and respond in a timely manner to the input.

  1. Remind Leaders of Their Primary Role
    Leaders need to remember their primary role to lead their team effectively. One way to do this is by having a printed document that serves as a reminder.This document should emphasize the importance of inspiring greatness in team members and serving as a coach who helps them become happy, great human beings who produce high-quality work.By keeping this reminder handy, leaders can focus on what matters most.
  2. Identify Employee Needs
    To keep employees motivated and inspired, leaders must understand and address their needs. It is important to be aware of the common needs that employees have in order to thrive and perform at their best in the workplace. By identifying and fulfilling these needs, leaders can create a positive work environment that fosters employee satisfaction and productivity.
  3. Gather Feedback
    It is important for leaders to consistently improve their leadership skills. Gathering feedback from employees can aid in this process. By obtaining feedback on how well leaders are meeting their needs, they can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to better serve their team.
  4. Respond in a Timely Manner
    As a leader, it is essential to respond to the feedback provided by employees in a timely manner. This helps to demonstrate that you are actively taking steps to address their concerns and improve your leadership skills. Promptly addressing feedback shows your employees that you value their opinions and are committed to creating a better work environment for everyone.

Matt Tenney has been working to help organizations develop leaders who improve employee engagement and performance since 2012. He is the author of three leadership books, including the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed book Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process.

Matt’s ideas have been featured in major media outlets and his clients include numerous national associations and Fortune 500 companies.

He is often invited to deliver keynote speeches at conferences and leadership meetings, and is known for delivering valuable, actionable insights in a way that is memorable and deeply inspiring.

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