How to understand and inspire the people around you by Paula Leach

By Guest Contributor Paula Leach

Author of Vantage Points, Paula Leach, explains key concepts in her book, such as how to inspire and understand those around you so your team and employees can thrive.

I believe that all leaders can simplify the often complex role that they have.  Firstly, by focusing on the key point of leadership which is to coordinate resources and people to support the movement of something from A to B.  And secondly, by distilling their job into two main aspects:  1) Creating clarity and 2) Getting out of the way and creating space for others.

Great leaders recognise that they are enablers and facilitators of productivity and achievement.  Whatever you are leading, whether it is a day to day operation or a huge transformation project or a movement for change, the principle of leadership remains the same.  To enable others to work collectively to create that movement.



Engaging people to bring their best creativity, innovation, productivity and effort is inherently a human endeavour.  People bring their best when they believe in what they are working towards and they have some autonomy or control over how they contribute.  We all need to feel an emotional investment in order to bring out that extra discretionary effort.



In order to give to others authentically and create an understanding based on empathy, we need to have high levels of self awareness.  We need to deeply know, accept and love our strengths and our challenges.  This level of calm acceptance of ourselves, enables us to be free of our own judgements and emotional responses or at least to be aware enough to acknowledge them, such that they are not in the way of our service to others.



We are all seeking inspiration and are hardwired to be drawn to put our efforts towards something that has meaning to us.  A leader needs to create agency in others by inspiring action and effort.  Clarity is important so people can see a clear path and vision and what is important is that this is partnered with a reason for people to walk down this path that resonates with them at an emotional level.

There is a beautiful fable which illustrates the role a leader plays in understanding and inspiring others:

A man is walking down the street, he is wearing a heavy coat and going about his business quite reasonably.  The Sun and the Wind are in the sky looking down upon him.  The wind, feeling a little bored, challenges the sun : ‘I bet I can get the coat off that man’s back’!  The sun agrees to the challenge and settles back as the wind huffs and puffs.  The wind blows with all his might, but no matter how strongly he blows, the man pulls his heavy coat tighter and tighter around him.  Eventually the wind gives up.  The sun says ‘Shall I have a go?’.  ‘Yes’, says the wind ‘but if I can’t get the coat off I don’t see how you will!’.  The sun smiles.  And shines her brightest beams down upon the man.  After a while he stops, mops his brow and takes his coat off, flinging it over his arm and carrying on along the path.

Whenever I reflect upon this fable, I think of leaders getting out of the way.  We can all be more Sun.  By simply shining warmth upon the man, he had the agency to take off his own coat.


PAULA LEACH has developed a lifelong interest in the way people work, individually and collaboratively in organisations, to the best of their potential. In particular, Paula believes in the value of positive, human-centred, intentional leadership as the key enabler for individuals and teams to thrive. Over 25 years, Paula has built her experience across global multinational, large public sector and entrepreneurial growth organisations, holding the positions of Chief People Officer at the Home Office and Global Chief People Officer at FDM Group. She holds an MBA from Henley Business School and is a Fellow of the CIPD. Paula now runs her business, Vantage Points Consulting, specialising in her passion for unlocking the potential in people and organisations through coaching and business consulting. She is launching the Vantage Points Foundation in Autumn 2021 to support and mentor young women launching their dream careers.



Suggested Reading

Everyone who holds a position of leadership regardless of their experience or scale, has five key Vantage Points from which they can build positive momentum and high performance. This book introduces these Vantage Points and provides highly practical examples of how leaders can use these in their daily approach to leading teams of brilliant people.

Vantage Points, invites leaders everywhere to consciously broaden their awareness via the exploration of the key Vantage Points. With this heightened awareness, great leaders can learn to focus their attention on their two primary jobs: creating clarity and space for individuals and teams to thrive. Vantage Points is a resource designed to support leaders in becoming more intentional in their actions and human centred interventions to enable and celebrate the shared collective endeavour of their team

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