Include – Inspire – Lead

Inspiration is, perhaps, the defining differentiator between leadership and participation.

Lets start with a bit more definition:

  • Boss – someone who tells people what to do.
  • Participant – someone who is part of the team (may have authority and title of leader)
  • Leader – someone who inspires others to follow (may not have authority or title)

In my work with teams I see a lot of “leaders” who are very effective at including but fail to make the shift from inclusion to inspiration.

Inclusion is, of course, important.  We need to understand the views of other stakeholders.  Even more importantly we need their thinking and contribution – especially if their thoughts are different or divergent to our own.

At some point a leader needs to identify a moment to shift from inclusion to inspiration.  Sufficient data has been gathered,  team members have been absolutely part of the process and their input has generated the narrative.  The leader has got to a point where they feel inspired and able to whole heartedly commit to and embody the change under consideration.

This is when the leader has to make the shift from inclusion to inspiration.

Inspiration has three key components:

  • The external opportunity space that the vision fits into
  • The vision for the destination that is motivating for key participants
  • The reason to believe that this is the team to achieve it

The opportunity space depends on the situation, in business it may refer to the gap in the market, in sports it might be the event or championship to win or in government it might be the problem to solve.  Whatever it is it will have been identified and confirmed during the inclusion phase, so that it is not one individuals view but a common view amongst the participants.  Whatever the opportunity space is, it needs to be articulated to the team as an opportunity that they are motivated to grasp.

The vision will also have been arrived at through the inclusion process so the leader will not be going out on a limb in articulating it, but their articulation of it must connect into the opportunity space in a motivational way.  The leader must themselves be wholeheartedly and authentically committed to the vision by this stage.

Finally the leader must convey the special reasons why they believe this team is the team to achieve the vision and maximise the opportunity and their own commitment to working with the team to make it happen.


A vision is like the declaration of love.  It is not good enough to imagine that doing it once at the wedding is enough.  You need to repeat it every day with feeling.

As regular readers will be aware, I am passionate about leadership.  I believe that truly excellent leadership is generally poorly understood and poorly practiced.  And I believe in the totally transformative power of leadership. People can be influenced to do and believe things that they did not realise they wanted to do or think.  Leadership can create appalling horrors or extraordinary beauty depending on the wholeness of the leader.

Holos has a vision to contribute to making holistic leadership ubiquitous in our society within 175 years.  We want to see this kind of leadership taught in schools and deployed for the good of society in business, politics and the public sector.

Holos believes that “Change is Easy” or at least it can be when it is done well. Holos has the resources and the skill to help organisations of any size to flourish in the future.

Please share your ideas, comment and discuss here – click on the blog title and scroll to the bottom to find the comment box.

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With love


Neil Crofts
authentic business




About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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