The Inspiring Leader by Myles Martel

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This morning I attended a talk by Myles Martel on the leadership of Ronald Reagan.  Mr. Martel was President Reagan’s debate coach and served as a counselor to the White House Office of Communications during the Reagan presidency.  He has advised Congressman, ambassadors, governors, cabinet members and business leaders.  His firm specializes in leadership development and personal image enhancement.
Mr. Martel spoke about his time with then-candidate Reagan preparing for the Reagan-Carter debate and then talked about characteristics of an inspiring leader, using examples from President Reagan’s career.

Here are some of the take-aways from Mr. Martel’s talk.  These are all items that are useful to the business litigation attorney, both as a trial attorney as well as a rainmaker and community leader.

The inspiring leader articulates a compelling vision and higher purpose.  The essence of a leader’s vision is a declared commitment to greater opportunity and hope for a better future under his or her leadership.

The inspiring leader likes and respects people and is committed to cultivating relationships.  Positive relationships inspire trust, engagement, openness and respect.

The inspiring leader strongly communicates hope, opportunity, pride (in the nation, organization, people, etc.) and confidence (in self, ideas, people, the organization…).  The inspiring leader connects and engages through shared values, goodwill, humility, respect, empathy, inclusion and humor.

The inspiring leader demonstrates contagious confidence in people’s capacity to deliver.  This quality, rooted in the leader’s trust in people’s character and competence, is essential for a leader to be inspiring, for inspiration by definition calls for people to reach within themselves and summon the will–the discretionary capacity–to perform at a higher level.

The inspiring leader empowers and entrusts his followers by granting them freedom to decide and lead.  The more people free (vs. fearful, constrained or micromanaged) to act, the more easily they can tap into the discretionary energy held in reserve for their capacity to be inspired.

The inspiring leader sets a compelling leadership example through decisions and actions, including symbolic behavior.  Decisions and actions that are inspirational normally reflect at least one of the following qualities or traits:  courage, necessity, timeliness and fairness.

The inspiring leader appreciates and celebrates others.

Mr. Martel’s talk was itself inspiring and his reflections on President Reagan were moving.  I really enjoyed it.

Los Angeles partnership litigation attorney Laine T. Wagenseller is the founder of Wagenseller Law Firm in downtown Los Angeles.  More information is available at and Mr. Wagenseller can be reached at (213) 286-0371.

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