A client recently told me he wanted to be a more inspiring leader, but he felt he was actually just kind of sitting around average. We spoke about what an ‘inspiring leader’ looked like and the people he thought emanated that. Here’s where it got real. I asked him what the differences were between that inspiring leader and himself. He said:

“I’d be inspired too if I had his job, his $200 haircuts, his life, his wife, his fancy home, his reputation”


All of these things are perceptions. It’s the stories you tell yourself that impact the message you send other people.


There’s lots of work you can do on aligning your values with your work. You can work on your communication, your influencing skills. Keeping a Pride Diary is excellent, but please, not a gratitude journal (read this article on why not).

But let me share the quickest fix I know.


These 8 questions will give even the most mundane job a halo.


Start with stories.

   1. How have you had a positive impact on people?

Maybe this is personal emails of thanks, perhaps it’s more big picture: the customer success stories.

       2. How does the work you do contribute to the greater good in the world?


Ask some questions

          3. How does your business serve it’s customers or the community?

For example, you’re in banking? ‘we help families to better manage their money, so they can live more full lives, have less stress’

You’re in loo roll manufacture? ‘we take a necessary product that’s destined for waste, and we make sure it has as little environmental impact as possible’


     4. How does your function serve the business?

For example:

“I’m in Supply chain – We ensure that the product is consistent, so that we can deliver what we say we will.”

“I’m in Manufacturing – we create to a high quality standard. It improves the business reputation and keeps us all going home safely to our families”


      5. How does your style impact those around you?

What are your style traits and how does that impact your work, your stakeholders, your colleagues? For example:

  • I’m reliable. That reassures my stakeholders, because they know I’ll be doing my part properly.
  • I’m loads of fun. We work in a highly stressful industry and while I get the job done effectively, my playfulness erases the stress lines from my colleagues faces.


When you’re enthusiastic about what the business delivers, you’re instantly inspiring those around you to be enthusiastic too.


Keep a Pride Diary

      6. What have you done well today? This week?

I’m not a fan of Gratitude Journals. I find that we tend to list the reasons we’re lucky and that can actually erode confidence, rather than boost it. This article on Pride Diaries will spell out the how-to. It doesn’t have to be a fancy bound journal, some of the most effective are a stack of post-it notes!


Inspiring leaders find opportunities to celebrate

      7. How often do you celebrate?
      8. How do you find reasons to celebrate?

When you’re in a rut or you’re taking criticism, this can be tough. Maybe you haven’t heard any positives for a while.  Find and leverage moments of success. It will boost engagement as well as credibility. If you start celebrating the inconsequential, the result will be the opposite of your aim. So celebrate strategically.


You’re fired up… so now what?

Remember that if you communicate blind enthusiasm you’re going to alienate people. Be sure to acknowledge the road blocks on the way, without letting those become the focus. I share my secret weapon for this in a blog on High Impact Presentations. You can read it HERE.


Cath Nolan is a Corporate Coach and serial business founder. With over 15 years, several thousand participants, hundreds of global brands and a long list of professional speaking gigs in her experience list, Cath’s focus is helping individuals to become the best of themselves, to achieve what’s most important to them. To see more, including free resources, visit cathnolan.com