Greater Than Inspiration


By Mali Phonpadith, Founder and CEO, SOAR Community Network

The best bosses advance others beyond business success.

Good leaders are hard to come by. Meeting a great leader is even more rare considering the millions of entrepreneurial roles and leadership positions held by people across the globe. Good leaders are charismatic, innovative, and effective communicators. They inspire their teams to stay the course in accomplishing tasks and achieving business goals.

Great leaders are all these things, and they provide appropriate tools and resources that foster success beyond business for everyone on the team. They are unapologetically transparent and make themselves accessible to others, sharing with clarity their visions beyond their professional personas. They are not shy about claiming their passion for creating real impact in the world.

Many good leaders are incredibly skilled at motivating their teams. However, a study of 1,000 employees conducted by Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner) found that leaders who help employees connect, share information, and facilitate decision-making at levels below the executive tier have 1.6 times the impact on employee performance (Richardson, 2016). More than 75 percent of those employees surveyed said they prefer leaders who help them get things done by giving them tools and access to resources rather than simply striving to inspire them.

Transcending from good to great leadership takes more than being a motivator; it also means leading by example and knowing when to pass the baton. To become a great leader, one must do more than inspire. One must develop other leaders for a better tomorrow. Highly respected leaders make it their missions to create solid foundations for others to succeed long after they’ve played out their roles as the visionaries of their businesses.

A 2010 study by Corporate Executive Board shows that U.S. workers put in 57 percent more effort—and deliver higher earnings per share, according to research by Gallup—when they feel their efforts are going toward something meaningful (Ford, 2016). Great leaders want to foster fulfillment and happiness in others because they value their own senses of fulfillment and happiness. In fact, Cone Communications found that nearly 80 percent of people prefer working for companies that pride themselves on social responsibility (Ford, 2016).

Evolved leaders know these types of stats and make volunteering and corporate giving integral programs within their organizations. Good morale is essential to a successful business, and great leaders create corporate giving programs to bolster it.

Here are some examples of highly productive organizations that have implemented successful corporate giving programs:

  • Since 2011, Apple has matched over $25 million in employee donations, resulting in more than $50 million for charities around the world.
  • For every book purchased on its site, Better World Books donates one to Books For Africa or Feed the Children.
  • For every comforter purchased from The Company Store, it donates one comforter to a homeless child in the United States.
  • At the TripAdvisor office, lunch is provided three times a week, and employees donate what they would have spent on food to charities they choose.
  • AT&T has contributed $350 million since 2008 to help reduce high school dropout rates.

These organizations are run by great leaders who care about the success of their businesses while also helping others on an altruistic level. They know that building a reserve of goodwill in the community means building rapport with others who will likely speak up on behalf of the company in the future. Employees also take pride in being part of an organization that seeks success above and beyond profit.

When we think of Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, or Richard Branson, we think of them as being great, advanced leaders. This category of leaders includes people who are intentional about each decision and action step. They know everything they do and say counts. They’re self-aware and have taken the time to map out their key strengths and weaknesses. They show humility, are authentic in every way, and acknowledge their imperfections. When leaders showcase their own personal growth, they legitimize the growth and learning of others. By admitting their own imperfections, they make it okay for others to be fallible, too. In this way, they consistently lead by example and walk their talk.

These advanced leaders are legacy-driven leaders. They focus on the long-term vision and understand that each decision and action contributes to the design of their legacy. They keep an open mind while being flexible and adjust if necessary. Showing up with heart, mind, and spirit is natural for them. They bring their whole selves to the table whether they’re at work, at home, or in social settings.

 Great leaders align their personal visions and missions with the roles they get to play in all areas of their lives. They do not limit their human potential by setting goals just for the workplace. They make honest and ethical behavior a key value for their teams to follow suit. Through coaching programs, mentorship, or self-study, they continue to work on mastering the art of being an awakened human being and thus a great leader.

We’ve all heard of this rare breed of leader, and if you’re lucky, you’ve met, developed, or been mentored by one of them. Having worked with hundreds of leaders in my years of running leadership forums and facilitating retreats, I’ve learned that the most fulfilled leaders give to others effortlessly. Great leaders know their worth, and therefore, they are able to value others.

Beyond their focus on what needs to get accomplished in the boardroom, the greatest leaders are philanthropic, empathetic, and compassionate. They have a deep knowing that their actions matter and that the consequences, good and bad, have a ripple effect that can transform lives. These advanced leaders use this knowledge for good and allow their actions to impact others in the most positive and empowering ways.

Ford, S. (2016, March 16). The business case for employee volunteer & skills giving programs [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Richardson, J. (2016, Oct. 27). Leadership less important than employee connectedness [Blog post]. Retrieved from


Mali Phonpadith is the Founder and CEO of the SOAR Community Network (SCN). She is an author, speaker, marketing strategist, podcaster, and producer of the Tea with Mali TV show. Learn more at