Are you inspired or inspirational?

At a time when leadership in many different areas (business, politics, social) is sorely needed, I find it curious that some of those either already in leadership positions or aspiring to be, don’t always seem to have those qualities to inspire.

Which is why when watching snippets from the first televised debate of the top 10 Republican presidential candidates, which by the way attracted 24 million American viewers- more than watched the World Series, I found myself asking the question. “What would make me want to follow a particular candidate and see them elected to the presidency?” (Assuming I was an American of course)

Naturally biases come into play. We seek out those who share similar values and beliefs to us – they confirm what we know as our ‘truth’ therefore they must be right.

We may mock bad hairpieces, (especially in high winds) but do bombastic and deliberately provocative statements make us think “Mmm, this one could be a great leader because they aren’t just towing a party line and they might get things done” or “Cripes, is this who I really want representing me and my country?”

Away from the political stage and all its actors, leadership at its core is about inspiring others to believe and share in our vision, because it then becomes a shared belief. And luckily it doesn’t take much to find some truly outstanding leaders in our society.

I was recently lucky enough to attend a research update morning for the Fiona Wood Foundation here in Perth and meet FW herself.

Fiona Wood AM is a leader. Doctor, plastic surgeon, burns specialist, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Fiona Stanley Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Director of the Burns Service of West Australia, Winthrop Professor (Burns Injury Research Unit) at the School of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, UWA, developer of Cell Spray – spray on skin, West Australian of the Year 2003 and 2004, Australian of the Year 2005. She inspires and is inspirational – not bad for a Yorkshire lass J

She has charisma. She may not be tall, but her physical presence in the room was a bright light attracting all of us wee moths. Her energy was contagious and her smile wider then the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not only was she having a great time that morning, she was making sure the rest of us did to.

She is human. Easy to talk to, approachable and warm – she engages instantly giving her full attention to who ever she is speaking to.

She is smart and uses those smarts to serve others. There is not a smigeon of arrogance or smartypantsness about her. She comes across as a completely normal human being, dedicated to helping others.

What was particularly inspirational was seeing how she gained her positive energy from those there from her team and the various research groups who took turns to explain their role within Prof Wood’s vision for scarless healing. As we listened to their presentations, you could see her smile grow wider and wider with enthusiasm for what was being shared.

Burns are a particularly horrific injury to sustain at any age and treatments have been notoriously difficult and time consuming. Living with the aftermath both physiologically and psychologically requires huge courage and support.

Listening to the research being undertaken by others working for the FWF was inspiring because these men and women are not only incredibly smart, they are totally dedicated to their work because they see the importance of their role in furthering understanding of the burns process and how it can improve outcomes.

It creates a positive feedback loop. When we feel something is worth working for, because we believe in it and know it is contributing to something far bigger than ourselves, our brain is enormously rewarded and that provides the motivation to make us want to continue. When we see our boss, manager, or leader so thrilled by what we are doing, that further stimulates our desire to do our work to the highest level, which in turn inspires the leader to pursue their vision.

This is leadership inspiring collaboration.

I came away that morning, feeling inspired myself through the understanding of the incredible work being done by remarkable people working to their strengths and delighted by their inspirational leader.

·       Do you have a passion or burning ambition to lead?

·       If so, what are you doing that will inspire others to make you truly inspirational?

·       Who do you see who has those traits and how can they be supported?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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