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Great Leaders Are Not Only Inspired; They Inspire Others

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Last year on a trip to the Salvador Dalí museum in St. Petersburg Florida, I came across a quote of his in which he said: “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” I have thought about that quote since then, and realize it not only applies to artists but business leaders too. A great leader must not only be inspired, and visionary, but they must inspire others too if they are to create great services, products, and organizations that change the world.

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others. – Dalí”

When companies are first founded, they are grounded in the vision and hard work of the founder. They are often passionate visionaries who understand a market and have an idea of how they are going to solve an unmet need in that market. They can be a good leader and manage their way through the early innovation to create a functional and reliable solution, however, alone, they are frequently unable to achieve a state of usability or pleasure along the lines of Aarron Walter’s hierarchy of user needs. These good leaders may offer new services, ship products, and build a moderately successful company; but they will never become market leaders that people love if they don’t speak to the emotions of their employees and customers.

To achieve the kind of 10x results that change the world, a great leader needs to surround themselves with others who are empowered to be great themselves. This means building a talented and diverse team, delegating tasks to those who have specialized training like UX or product, trusting in the team to do the right thing, inspiring everyone to go beyond their fears and doubts, and most importantly, creating a culture that supports people to both succeed and fail.

“a great leader needs to surround themselves with others who are empowered to be great themselves.”

Establishing a workplace culture that supports these kinds of values, beliefs, and behaviors, is critical because even if a leader hires the best talent, they can’t reach their full potential in a culture that isn’t supportive and inspiring. Leaders who understand this, are always at the foundation of 10x companies, and those leaders are the truly great ones.

So while a good leader is inspired and able to found a company, they won’t be a great leader unless they establish a healthy organizational culture that supports every single individual to be the best version of themselves, for their benefit, and the company’s benefit.

So which type of leader do you want to be: inspired, inspiring, or both?


Also published on Medium.

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