This week (20-24 March 2023) is International Leadership Week – an opportunity to honour and recognise leaders from all walks of life and raise awareness about the importance of leadership in all areas of life. It is a time to celebrate the achievements of leaders who have made significant contributions to their communities and the world at large, and to inspire the next generation of leaders to take action and make a positive impact in their own spheres of influence.

Why leadership?

As a business psychology consultancy that has spent more than 20 years focusing on improving leadership, we can’t help but have our interest piqued by events like International Leadership Week – a valuable platform for celebrating leadership and encouraging individuals to develop their leadership skills, ultimately creating a positive impact on the world.

So, we have marked the occasion by asking some of our team to name the leaders they have found most inspirational. But what are ‘leaders’? They are people who envision, architect and create better futures. They jump first and (to quote Simon Sinek) they ‘eat last’. Whilst we’re generally of the opinion that it’s not always possible to choose one individual leader – leaders don’t generally do it alone; instead, most successful leadership is done as a team – it is nevertheless interesting to identify individuals who have inspired us. With so many examples of great leaders from increasingly diverse backgrounds, there are too many to list here, but here are some of our ideas:

David Attenborough
For the immense difference he has made to tackling the climate crisis – so much knowledge and wisdom that is inspiring others to make this planet a better place.

Greta Thunberg
She is consistent and practices what she preaches. Amen.

Martin Luther King
For pursuing his dream of black people being treated fairly.

Jacinda Ardern
She leads with authenticity, empathy and kindness, focuses on the ‘we’ not the ‘I’, and has worked hard to create a relationship of trust with the people of New Zealand. She is able to make hard choices and act quickly. She is kind, but not soft. She possesses empathy and drive for solidarity, not division. She shows humility and servant leadership style.

Steven Spielberg
He may not have led any armies into battle but is arguably one of the most influential film directors. Jaws is renowned as one of the most testing film productions ever and still has us questioning whether we want to swim in the sea. Being able to manage a large film crew in the face of adversity, and influence a timeless global audience via the language of film, is impressive leadership.

Tori Dunlap
CEO of Her First 100k, has written a best seller called Financial Feminist and is dedicated to closing the gender pay gap by teaching women how to pay off their debt and invest their money wisely.

Brené Brown (research professor at the University of Houston and visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business)
For her dedication to vulnerability and normalising human emotion in our interactions.

Alex Honnold (an American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents, and the first person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park)
For his very refreshing perspective on fear and our relationship with it.

Pep Guardiola (manager of Manchester City football club)
He has a very clearly defined philosophy that forms the basis of his coaching methods, but one that he adapts based on the strengths and characteristics of the team (and the weaknesses of the opponent). So, whilst he regularly changes his team’s structure, he also remains committed to several core principles/values. Guardiola’s attention to detail, passion, and unwavering commitment to excellence are qualities that inspire his players and elevate their performances. His humility and ability to connect with people also make him a highly respected figure in the football world, and a role model for aspiring leaders in any field.

We are convinced that good leadership is more important now than it has ever been. Our businesses, communities and societies are reliant upon leadership to provide direction, guidance and motivation for achieving shared goals and objectives. We be interested in hearing who you would select to be crowned ‘most inspirational leader’. Comment on our LinkedIn profile to share your nominations.