Today’s effective leader must demonstrate both a sense of independence from traditional thinking as well as an interdependence with her or his community in order to cause change.
We’re just celebrated Independence Day in the States. In addition to the picnics, barbeques and fireworks, it’s a holiday that honors our forefathers for breaking away from Great Britain.
Here are some critical reasons why as a leader, you need to exhibit independence AND interdependence.
The case for independence…
1. Leaders must be ahead of the pack in order to lead. This requires courage and the willingness to stand out.
2. Leaders aren’t content with the status quo. They must be willing to buck conventional wisdom and act with independence.
3. Leaders must make tough decisions. Sometimes their decisions will be unpopular, but if they are the right decisions, the leaders must stand by them.
4. Leaders set high standards. They don’t succumb to mediocrity nor people’s excuses for ‘why it can’t be done’. They raise the bar on performance levels for all around them including their own.
The case for interdependence
1. No leader, no matter how capable, can bring about their big vision all by themselves. They need the support and commitment of others to make their ‘dream’ come true.
2. Leaders instill loyalty by caring for other people and demonstrating concern for their welfare. As John Maxwell said, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care‘.
3. Leaders create community, bonding people together for a cause greater than their personal and individual wants and needs. In community, people can accomplish miracles that otherwise would not be possible.
4. By definition, leaders need other people. One can’t ‘lead’ if there is no one TO lead.
Therefore, leaders are dependent on the presence of others to make possible and real their leadership role. It’s not approval they’re seeking but without other beings, there is no possibility to express leadership. Therefore, they are dependent on others to experience their Self-as-Leader and Leader does not exist.
Leaders must be competent functioning in both domains, courageously independent bucking the trend while at the same time operating interdependently with others to make magic happen.
“What do the Oscars have to do with business leadership?”, you may be asking. There are five things I believe Oscar nominees and winners demonstrate that land them the preeminent recognition for their artistic achievements.
Having a clear vision is almost a cliché attribute of a leader. However without it, it’s hard to give an outstanding, authentic performance as an actor. In the absence of ‘where am I going with this character?’, the actor would likely amble around, missing opportunities to clearly define what defines him or her. How would they know how to respond in certain situations?
When an actor is able to do this, we find ourselves watching a scene unfold that evokes powerful emotions within us riveting us to the screen and the characters.
A lack of vision would make directing a film equally a challenge. The director must communicate the vision for the overall project so that the players can find themselves and clarify their roles in the film. The players are then able to bring their best into the role and forge a path toward the vision that is theirs uniquely to make.
This ability to articulate a clear vision advances any kind of project, whether it’s being played out in Hollywood, Boise or Philadelphia.
I researched the dictionary for the definition of ‘intention’ because although I know it when I feel it, I wasn’t sure how to describe it.
Here’s part of what I found: An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action; purpose or attitude.
The definition that was most revealing however, was that of the word as used in a medical context: “a manner or process of healing (as in the healing of a lesion or fracture).
This brought a whole new perspective to that which occurs in acting, directing, filming and leading. Imagine that the intention one brings reflects the healing and fusing of two (or more) disparate entities, goals, purposes, personae, people.
In this way, it reflects a sort of will to bring together that which might not have happened that leaves the new ‘whole’ greater than the sum of its parts.
When you’re leading, isn’t that exactly what you’re doing?
3. Going all out
You may have heard the phrase, “Leave it all on the floor”. Oscar nominees put everything they have into their
performance. They completely ‘spend’ themselves. I’ve heard actors say they actually abandon their own personality and dive as deeply as they can into their portrayal character.
That kind of energy, passion and commitment serves a leader as well. Think about people who have deeply inspired you. They didn’t give up their own personality, but they probably did give what they were at work on, everything they had.
It was this demonstration of going for the gusto, that probably had you step up and excel in your own performance.
4. Attention to detail
Think about the mountain of details that must be involved in films as visually complex as Inception and Avatar.
Even the characters in Inception were focused on keeping every detail of the dream levels as realistic as possible.
When you’re a leader, you don’t need to attend to all of the details, but you must keenly care about them and communicate that care to the people whose job it is to attend to them.
5. Challenging the bounds of reality and ‘what’s possible’
It’s a delicate trick to balance reality and possibility. Films need to have some semblance to reality or else they won’t be understood.
However, if all they reflect is reality and don’t challenge the edges, we’ll be bored watching them.
Successful screen writing requires some sort of break with the predictable; some dichotomy or unexpected crisis is needed to keep the plot interesting. Great actors are able to take ordinary people (even in bit roles) and make memorable characters,even heroes out of them.
Exemplary leaders are able to stand in the reality of where things are now, both the circumstances and the people. They are equally able to articulate what’s possible and galvanize people around getting there. They don’t succumb to ‘it’s never been done before’. They’re actually challenged by that and rise to the occasion. As they rise and light the path ahead, they elevate us all.
Imagine what it would take for you to bring the traits of an Academy Award winner into ‘playing’ out your leadership role, whether at work, at home or in your community.
How might you behave differently? What would you and those around you be able to accomplish? Think about that the next time you step onto your ‘stage’.
For the last several months, I’ve been constructing a model for building a highly successful business. Based on what I’ve done to build mine over the years and harvesting the wisdom of brilliant mentors I’ve studied with, I’ve outlined a comprehensive, yet simple model for success.
The model extends well past theory and includes 7 practical steps business owners must take if they want to thrive and enjoy life rather than being consumed by the ‘job’ they’ve created for themselves.
Today, using the metaphor of how bamboo grows, I’ll share with you the 3 stages you must master to enjoy massive business growth.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, spurting at times, almost 4 feet in a single 24-hour period! At the beginning though, it appears to be growing (on the surface) quite slowly.
There are 3 stages of bamboo (and business) growth: sleep, creep and leap.
During the first year of a young bamboo plant’s life, most of its energy is devoted to
laying a strong foundation via the root structure. Plant shoots peak out above the ground and underground rhizomes shoot out horizontally.
As the foundation builds, the plants continue to grow but most of the ‘work’ is still being done underground. The roots branch and spread even further. They provide water to the leaves and the leaves use sunlight to produce food that the roots need to expand further and stock up on energy for next year’s shoots.
Once the foundation has developed (and this may take years) the above-ground plants grow rapidly. Each year, as the stand of plants matures, the diameter of each new cane that develops, is generally larger than those that were ‘born’ last year.
So, as with your business, the huge bamboo stand of plants isn’t built in a single year. But once the foundation is laid, growth seems almost miraculous.
Here are a few of the steps you must take to enjoy miraculous business growth.
In the Sleep phase, you dream. You envision and clarify your ideal clients, your ideal work day and your overall ideal day. Without this step, you’ll feel unfocused, frustrated and stressed.
You also clarify what you’ll be offering to the market place and how to best distinguish you and your business from all of the other vendors with similar offers. You work on branding and understanding exactly how people or companies benefit from working with you.
You define your ‘product mix’, create revenue goals, set prices, deterimine sales channels and schedule your major marketing activities.
In the Creep phase, you launch your marketing efforts in a focused and aggressive manner. You identify what you need to run a successful business from an internal perspective and from an external marketing perspective. You implement your marketing plans and measure your success. If you skip this step or do it poorly, you’ll feel scattered and leave money on the table because you miss opportunities that are right there in front of you. You’ll use the wrong approaches and waste precious time and money.
In the Leap phase, you work on leveraging your success. You work ON your business not just IN it. The focus here is on time mangement, automating and systemitizing. You document and delegate, work to continually delight your customers and build internal financial metrics and controls.
You also start to convert your ‘secret sauce’ into products that you can use to build revenue that is not dependent on you actively working with clients. You build raving fans, referrals, affiliates and perhaps joint venture partners. You enhance and expand your online marketing efforts. NOw that you’ve got your systems in place, you aggressively drive traffic to your website to generate qualified leads.
During this phase, you’ll probably encounter more leadership challenges so you’ll also work on improving yourself while managing the issues of leading a team of employees or contractors. You may even decide to pursue bigger, better and more well-heeled clientele.
If you don’t Leap successfully, you’ll survive but miss out on the mega-growth that you probably dreamed of when you first launched your burgeoning empire.
While I’ve laid out these 3 stages sequentially, you’re almost always working on some aspects of each of them. At various phases of your own evolution, you make focus on different aspects of this model. You may elect to restart the process at stage 1 if you decide to revamp your business. You may jump in at Stage 2 if you love the clients you have and the work you do, but the model isn’t generating enough cash.
And as you grow, you’ll need to work on Stage 3 to Leap into an even more prosperous future and create the lifestyle of your dreams.
Many people think that leaders are born, not made and that if they aren’t officially a Manager, Director, Executive Directory, Vice President, President or CEO, that they are really a leader.
I beg to differ. Leadership is a set of specific behaviors that can be learned.
Here are seven keys I believe are critical to transforming ordinary people into extraordinary leaders.
1. Evoke the emotions of others
True leaders inspire people. They touch their hearts on issues that are important to them. They raise hope while acknowledging and accepting the human frailties we all possess. Leaders make people connect the change they are striving to cause to their own needs and desires.
2. Believe in people
It’s hard for us to see skeptics or critical, negative people as leaders because they don’t do anything proactive to make us feel good about ourselves. On the other hand, leaders see the rough diamonds buried in our hearts and bring them to light so that WE can see them too.
3. Have a compelling vision and be passionate in expressing it
Great leaders see a future that is dramatically different than the present we live in and they don’t keep it a secret. They articulate that future and tell us WHY it’s important that we move toward it. They know they are on the right track even when the rest of the world is still asleep to or in denial about the problem.
4. Never give up but stay flexible
Leaders with big visions are often seen as crack pots or zealots before the masses catch on to the imoportance of their platform. Expect to encounter some resistance at the beginning, but don’t give up on what you believe in. Do however, stay present to new developments and trends and what’s on the minds of the people in your burgeoning ‘tribe’. Find common ground with them an incorporate what you can into your vision, but don’t dilute it too much by trying to please everyone. You won’t.
5. Be an exemplary model
The increased visibility that your leadership will generate will put you in the spotlight. Keep your hands clean. Don’t be tempted by your growing power and influence. Also, don’t avoid leadershp if you have a shady past. If you have truly repented, take ownership for your humanity and mistakes. Share what you’ve learned from your errant ways and promise to stay on the straight and narrow. And then stay there.
6. Demonstrate integrity
Keep your word. Be consistent in your actions. Do what you say you’re going to do. Tell the truth. Make decisions your mother, spouse, children, grandmother would be proud of. Live as though your life will be played out in the media because it might actually end up there.
7. Ask for input and help
Don’t try to get to ‘the promised land’ alone. You can’t. And even if you do, it won’t be very gratifying. As you enroll others in your vision, identify key people in your cause and solicit their opinions and help. The more people you have actively engaged and on the bandwagon with you leading others as well, the easier your road trip will be.
Do these things consistently and you’ll find yourself living a fulfilled life, making a difference and leaving the world in a better place than you found it. That is your purpose so go live it.