Inspirational Leadership Matters: The Four I's of Leadership

There is a growing interest from business to encourage leadership skills, develop leadership abilities, and build leadership knowledge.
Inspirational Leadership Matters: The Four I's of Leadership - Articles


Leadership is a process. Its mechanics are taught to students taking leadership as a major on college campuses all across the nation. Except for a few flat organizational structures, most of us have a hierarchy type system with a manager, director, or higher-up. The ideas of what-cause, how-to-lead, and, how-to-create people to follow your company into the future, are central to the social science studies in Leadership. The faces of the Leadership Development Master’s majors in college are vast—some are career people looking to lead or start a new career, or get that promotion. Younger students right from undergrad are enrolling in Master’s programs in Leadership Communications to help them pave the way for a more prosperous future career in the social sciences, leadership, or organizational behavior. And, students of Leadership are everywhere in between, enrolled for reasons such as better job, better pay, and to get on a fast(er) track to management.

The Four I’s of Leadership

The Four I’s of Leadership are four unique leadership talents, each beginning with the letter I:

  • Inspirational Motivation
  • Individualized Consideration
  • Intellectual Stimulation
  • Idealized Influence

This acronym-based learning model is tailored for easy recall on how to identify and improve your leadership abilities, attributes, and behaviors. Do you want to learn how to truly inspire your friends and coworkers and create a shared vision of the future? Turn to the Four I's Inspirational Motivation for some assistance. If giving the best possible meaningful and value-oriented speeches is something you want to improve, take a look at the Idealized Influence section of the Four I's for some useful tips. In this article, we will take a look at Inspirational Motivation. In three future articles, we will explore the other three I’s; Individualized Consideration , Intellectual Stimulation, and Idealized Influence.

Inspirational Motivation

Inspirational Motivation is when a leader exudes and communicates excellence, and takes the time to honestly and with integrity, focus on the value of the self, the other person, and the task at hand. Put simply; they motivate you.

Having the ability to share a vision and mission, the best leader connects emotionally with people and finds out what makes them “tick.” Through gestures, words, doing things differently, and appropriately timed rewards for jobs well-done, an effective leader helps you become motivated to achieving greatness, and often time extraordinary levels of performance. For example, the best inspirational motivators are those leaders or business people that lead by example. They’ve been there. And, they’ve grown and learned from being in your shoes. Studies show that if you want to be a charismatic or inspiring motivator, it is possible because they are made—not necessarily born. By unlocking behaviors and hidden potentials to performance and striving for accountability for actions and results, you, the leader empower people.

Through symbolic moves and living as an example of being the best self, while creating high standards for those around you, the most powerful and accepted leaders show continued commitment to motivating others through the mastery of the Four I’s of Leadership. Penn State University offers a robust Master’s of Leadership Development program.

References & Resources

Transformational Leadership (Second Edition). 2006. Bernard M. Bass, Ronald E. Riggio, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Leadership, a Communication Perspective. 1996. Hackman, Michael Z. Johnson, Craig E. Waveland Press INC.