Leadership model

Bain Inspirational Leadership System

What do employees find inspirational?

The Bain Inspirational Leadership System is made up of 33 elements we have identified as statistically significant for inspiring others. While every person is inspired by a different combination of these skills, they all collectively matter to your employees regardless of their role within your organization. The skills below are categorized into four groups based on the type of interactions they’re most closely associated with.

Read the Bain Brief: How Leaders Inspire—Cracking the Code


Centeredness means engaging all parts of the mind to become fully present.

This skill is universal and an important enabler of all other skills. It is therefore viewed by employees as the most inspiring.

More about centeredness >

Developing inner resources

Skills most relevant in leading yourself

Dealing with stress in a positive and constructive manner
Understanding your emotions, their causes, and their impact on others
Adapting your responses to dynamic circumstances
Maintaining the conviction to follow your own course of action
Voicing your feelings openly
Holding a confident yet realistic assessment of your abilities
Improving yourself and engaging in personally meaningful pursuits
Remaining resilient and positive despite challenges

Connecting with others

Skills most relevant in one-on-one interactions

Showing passion for your work and giving energy to others
Maintaining a balanced ego
Understanding and appreciating others’ needs and feelings
Assisting others in advancing their skills
Advocating your point of view in an open, honest and direct way
Paying true attention to others’ comments, ideas, and feelings
Conveying ideas and emotions clearly and compellingly
Sharing mutual interests and activities

Setting the tone

Skills most relevant in group settings when you’re not the structural or formal leader

Seeking to understand and incorporate diverse perspectives
Demonstrating curiosity, creativity, and receptivity to input
Living the organization’s mission and operating principles
Showing integrity and consistency in word and action
Taking proactive ownership, giving credit for success, and being accountable for mistakes
Putting team needs above short term personal benefits
Showing appreciation for the efforts and results of others
Respecting the boundaries of others’ relationships and commitments outside of work

Leading the team

Skills most relevant in formal leadership positions

Creating a compelling objective which builds confidence and encourages sign-up
Orienting teams towards the most relevant set of outcomes
Fostering alignment and resolving conflicts
Setting appropriate group and individual expectations
Allowing and encouraging the freedom to stretch
Trusting that collaboration can yield better results
Investing on behalf of others, and finding joy in their success
Engaging to help others achieve their broad career aspirations

NEXT: Individual application >