The primary job of a leader is to inspire others.
In fact, that’s pretty obviously how you tell if a person is a leader. If there aren’t others following, the person is not a leader. By ‘following’ I mean people are genuinely inspired by the cause of the leader. They genuinely want that cause to succeed. And they are motivated to voluntarily do things to try to bring it about. They want to be part of the cause. They are happy to work to make it a reality. They feel privileged to do their part.
A person who has others “following” only because (s)he has power over them, or has power that they can benefit from, is not actually a leader. True leaders have others genuinely following them. They inspire.
Good leaders—I mean effective leaders—who are heads of organizations or units within an organization, also empower those under them. Such leaders encourage those “under” them. They are their cheerleaders. In fact, the head of an organization is the cheerleader-in-chief of that organization—rather of the people in the organization.
They also ensure that the people under them have the tools necessary to accomplish their tasks. They ensure that they have the authority necessary to succeed. And then—having inspired them with the goal—they get out of the way. They let them do, in their own way, what they are inspired and to do.
Leaders help others derive great satisfaction from what they are accomplishing for the cause. Leaders help others feel good about themselves for their efforts. They do not manipulate or bully. They inspire and empower.
Of course, only a person who accomplishes ethical ends by ethical means is a real leader. A person who uses others, or uses unethical means, is a manipulator and a con, not a leader.
But it is amazing what an effective leader can accomplish:
A person who
inspires others with a great cause,
motivates them to work hard to accomplish it,
and encourages and empowers their efforts.
For great TED Talks on these themes see:
Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action,
Simon Sinek: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe,
and Daniel Pink: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose; How Motivation is Driven by Purpose