1. People Are Intimidated by You
I’ve worked with many intimidating leaders who didn’t realize it. Really? How could they not know? When you’re very smart and quick on your feet, people can get intimidated because they fear you might think they are stupid. Let’s face it, there are certainly stupid questions, but sometimes you want the question. Without self-awareness of your intimidation factor, you could be hindering growth and innovation as well as creating a stressful and less productive environment. You might actually be inspiring, but do you want to be unapproachable?

Tip: Try to be curious and ask a question rather than firing off the answer. Something as simple as “What kind of feedback are you looking for?” could go a long way.

2. Vulnerability Builds Trust
I don’t mean crying or showing inappropriate emotions on a regular basis. Relating to someone or sharing a weakness can help build trust. Trust is one of the most important factors for building highly successful teams. If your team thinks you are stoic and unflappable, they are not going to come to you with issues they should be coming to you with. Never underestimate the value of connecting with someone in a more personal way.

3. Celebrating Failure Inspires Innovation
Google is famous not only for innovation, but for celebrating failures. Failing doesn’t necessarily feel great, but by experimenting and testing limits, you might have a fantastic result that might not have seemed possible. Creative risk-taking isn’t for every project, but giving people some leeway to fail might lead to an invaluable discovery.

4. Pivoting is Essential
Has there been a time when your vision seems unattainable or you’ve come to a crossroads? Great leaders don’t get stuck when a project isn’t going as expected— they pivot. If you’ve rallied around “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” then you’re as old as that saying. Innovation and doing things differently is exciting and essential for growth. Utilize the dynamic skills of your team to inspire you to try something new. In fact, it might be time to try some reverse mentorship and invite the skills of your millennials. Ask those younger team members about some of their ideas, then mentor them about more high-level ways of business. Beyond mindset, people are an important element in the pivot.

5. Combine Performance & Presence
Are you a leader who has presence, performance or both? Presence is when a person enters and takes control of the room. Performance is that driven person you know who always gets it done and executes at a high level, but may be less center stage. A leader will have a nice combination of both and that’s how to be inspirational.

Tip: Ask three people to be brutally honest and give you 3 words that describe you. Notice a theme or something missing that you’d like to have.


As founder of McCourt Leadership Group, you might find Elizabeth McCourt supporting a C-suite client on leadership challenges or giving a Ted talk sharing her thoughts on the power of vulnerability and openness. Elizabeth is a sought-after speaker on resilience, mindset and the non-linear path to success. On March 6, she’ll become a novelist with the publication of her first book, Sin in The Big Easy.

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