Powerful, influential, and inspiring leadership — it’s like a ghost. Everyone hears and talks about it, but few have truly seen it and felt its impact. A great leader is hard to come by, but there are just a few traits and behaviors that tie all the greatest leaders in history together.

Throughout the past, we’ve seen that what motivates people varies by the individual or group. What works for one may not work for another. As in life as a whole, there is no straightforward answer or magic formula. However, there is a broad, simple pattern that has been found to be very effective; this is the Golden Circle Model. You may have heard of it before, as it was popularized by Simon Sinek in his TED Talk. The Golden Circle Model explores the concept of incorporating “why”, “how”, and “what”. There is a special emphasis that is placed on the “why”. Give your team a reason to believe in the purpose of what they do.

There is a common misconception about the difference between a leader and a manager. A manager maintains consistency, order, and creates and follows processes; a leader motivates, creates necessary change, and listens to peoples’ feelings.

As the leader in any team or environment, the relationships you form are more important than the results you generate. In a study done by Zenger, it was found that if employees rated a manager as very high on “focus on results” (that is, one’s ability to get things done effectively), there was only a small (14 percent) chance that the manager would be rated among the top 10 percent of leaders overall. The inverse was true as well. A good leader is tough but warm, truly a delicate balance to both achieve and maintain.

Get to know yourself and your team. In short, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else has any reason to. Next, believe in your team. It’s a group effort and everyone needs to be recognized as capable contributors. Care about individuals as individuals and not just as a means to an end. Listen and provide direction and the support.

As you may know, listening is different from hearing. Listening actively involves making the effort to understand what is being communicated to you. To get the full message, pay close attention when your team members are discussing their problems, concerns, and successes with you. If they feel as though their thoughts are cared about, they will care more about the task at hand and feel more comfortable in being honest and giving their best.

The process of getting to know your team also applies to strengths, skillsets, and limitations. Even if you’re leading the project, you won’t know everything and that’s okay. Let your work and actions speak for you, rather than just seizing the opportunity to take credit. It takes a collaborative effort to be successful.

Know that inspiration is different from motivation. Motivation is necessary to complete a task and keeps you going to get it done. Inspiration is what insures that your team sees the bigger picture and the bigger purpose of what you are chasing. When working toward a larger goal, it is easier to see the impact of the work being done.


Becoming a great leader is no easy task, but in trying, your efforts are sure to be rewarded. When in doubt, aspire be the kind of compassionate, inspiring leader that you would want to see in others. Be open-minded, but goal-oriented and driven.

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Originally published at medium.com