The greatest leaders not only command, they also inspire

Man pointing

“The greatest leaders not only command, they also inspire their followers”

This statement is very true. It is true that commanding does not garner much from people other than the minimum. While inspiration gets the blood flowing and people relatively motivated, which tends to lead to better results than just the bare minimum.

Nevertheless, each method has its disadvantages and advantages accordingly. For example, the power of command is easy to wield and requires little cost for the leader other than just spoken words and a point in the right direction, giving the follower a firm task to complete. While inspiration is hard to wield and requires a good amount of cost to the leader, usually the leader needs a “motivator” to get the follower inspired to go beyond the minimum in order to get the reward associated with the “motivator”.

Even though it is possible for a leader to inspire his followers most of the time for long periods, many achieve this either by using sheer charisma or efficient interaction with their followers. They do not need to reward them too often to achieve this, as you would believe. Truthfully, if a leader tried to reward their followers too much they might get a spoilt mindset and become complacent. Therefore, it is more about how and when you motivate rather with what, that fact separates great leaders from ordinary ones. Moderation and planning is important as you want an efficient well-bred support machinery behind you, not a plethora of fans.

Cause with fans as soon as there is a slight discrepancy in rewards, you end up having a enemy. Commanding has its place, it instills discipline and rigor into the followers to make sure they understand the minor goals that have to be completed to get any closer to the ultimate goal. Inspiration is used from time to time (especially in the very beginning) to remind them of the ultimate goal they are shooting towards, something to believe in and strive for.

People love striving for something, but it is human nature to dream big but do little. As a leader you have to get the follower to strive and work towards the goals of the unit, off their own initiative with as little interference as possible without leaving them too aloof. Try doing that for 10 or more people and the task of a leader becomes very difficult. Not for the faint of the heart indeed, only the greatest of persons can really lead.


David Shaw is a certified nerd and scum of the earth. Jamaican by birth, he enjoys long walks and the simple things in life. He is also an entrepreneur, writer and graphic designer. You can follow his mundane madness on twitter @davidcs_aw

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The greatest leaders not only command, they also inspire

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