Inspire, Influence, and Encourage Them!


Ki Hajar Dewantara, the Father of National Education of Indonesia taught this leadership philosophy:

  • “Ing ngarso sung tulodo,” means at the front, set examples;
  • “Ing madyo mangun karso,” means amongst the team, kindle their spirits or initiatives;
  • “Tut wuri handayani,” means from behind, give encouragement.

John Maxwell (American pastor, speaker, and leadership book author) gave a similar leadership advice. He said, “A good leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

In essence, both men remind us that leaders need to consistently do these to their team members:

  • inspire them by sharing the leaders’ thoughts about the right things to do;
  • influence them by setting examples; and
  • encourage them by motivating them to act.

During one of an interactive leadership session that I facilitated, one lady participant contributed a beautiful advice to the entire class. She suggested that leaders should inspire, influence, and encourage their team members to use these words often:

  • Please,” when asking someone for a favor;
  • Thank you,” when receiving a favor from someone;
  • Sorry,” arguably being the hardest among the three words, when making a mistake to someone.

As leaders, let us live out the above teachings of both leadership gurus. We could start by following the practical tips from the lady in my leadership session.

Let us inspire, influence, and encourage others. Whilst we practice our leadership, remember also this quote from another leadership guru, Mahatma Gandhi:  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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