I have recently started watching Star Wars Clone Wars, the animated series based on Lucas' universe. The first episode, "Ambush", started with the following statement: "Great leaders inspire greatness in others". The episode depicts Yohda, master of the Jedi Council, performing what he is good at: leadership. Beyond being a good leader who inspires others with confidence, he is a GREAT leader who inspires them with confidence in themselves. By doing so, he assumes the main function of leadership: to produce more leaders (not more followers). He walks besides his followers and his actions inspire them to learn more, do more and become more: He elicits the greatness that is in them already. He asks others for their ideas and suggestions, listens to others, explains himself, teaches and coaches them. He knows the way, goes the way and shows the way, takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.
In all ways, he is an example of what a leader is: A leader leads by example, whether he wants it or not, and most often he does not need to lead, he is content to show the way. Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the ONLY thing. When using the word "leader", you could think that there are plenty of them all around the world, but taking a closer look in your own career, you will realize that not that many of them are truly inspiring leaders. In my career, I have been fortunate enough to work for some, and there are two names on top of my list who have had a great influence in building who I am: Jim Kinsella, and Christian Perdrier. Both of them encouraged participation and initiative, rolled-up their sleeves when necessary, spoke frankly and openly, even in tough times, and led by example, always.
Can you name leaders who inspired you and describe how?