How to spot an uninspired leader


Do you know uninspired leadership when you see it - in yourself or in others? Here are four sure-tell signs:

  1. Built on fear. This takes two forms. In the first, the uninspired leader convinces us that we, "they" or the world, in general, is a scary place, irreparably broken and in need of a savior. Without this fear, the leader has no power. In the second, the leader simply exists in a state of fear, terrified of being seen as weak, incompetent, or worse, irrelevant. These two forms can and often do co-exist.

  2. No compelling vision. Listen closely to the presumed vision and you will hear great clarity about what they are against, but little about what they are for. In this uninspired state, these leaders are not creators or innovators, for they are not inspired by a grand vision; they are fueled by fear - their own or the fear they must engender to maintain credibility.

  3. Lack of curiosity. These leaders are locked into rigid paradigms and have little curiosity about anything outside those limited perceptions. While inspired leaders are more curious than judging, more curious than certain, more curious than needing to be right, these leaders are the exact opposite.

  4. Do not invite others to play. The focus for these leaders is control vs engagement. They trust few, so end up trying to do it all. The result is a kind of flailing about, bouncing from one decision to another, with little sense of completion or commitment. As they are exposed as the "Emperor with no clothes," their only course of action is to return to #1. Eventually, this house of cards falls under the weight of its own irrelevance.

It is easy to see this pattern in despots past, and leaders present. You may see it in your boss and, at times, in yourself. It is always born of fear, can only live in the presence of fear, and quickly dissolves in the absence of fear. Since the fear lives in darkness, only light will prevail. So, as an inspired personal leader, you can make the choice to:

  1. Reject fear - even your fear that the uninspired leader will prevail. (They will not.)

  2. Embrace light - by choosing to see and talk about the inevitable acts of courage, caring and creativity that can otherwise be missed.

  3. Amplify the light - by sharing a new vision that is vivid and compelling and resonates with our whole-ness vs our broken-ness. Give full voice to what you are for rather than amplifying what you are against.

No matter how uninspired leadership feels to witness (and it can feel scary and wrong), There. Is. No. Darkness. ...Only the absence of light.

That's where you come in.

Shine on.