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Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Your boss has asked you to speak at your company’s annual employee conference. In fact, he’s penciled you in to talk for 15 minutes in front of an expected crowd of 800 people. There’s just one problem… you’re terrified of public speaking!

Instead of relishing the chance to shine in front of your colleagues – you’re consumed by trying to find a way to get out of doing the speech.

Fear of public speaking is common. However, instead of allowing fears such as this to hold you hostage, you can turn them into powerful springboards to success.

Before I reveal how to do this, let’s first take a look at some common threats, and our typical responses to them.

Are You Struggling to Cope with Threatening Situations?

Imagine for a moment that time travel is real.

You decide to go back thousands of years to see how our early ancestors lived. Once you arrive at your chosen destination, you quickly discover that life at that time was riddled with dangers. There’s physical fighting between different communities, animal predators to avoid, and a constant threat of starvation.

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It was during these tough and treacherous times that early humans developed something called the ‘fight or flight’ response. This response can be described as a physiological reaction to a threat or attack that causes the body to immediately release a hormonal cascade. This hormonal release shifts the body into extreme physical alertness, allowing either a defense to be mounted, or alternatively – a quick getaway! (Spend some time watching cats and dogs, and you’ll frequently see this fight or flight response in action.)

While the fight or flight response is obviously helpful in life-or-death situations, it can be a negative thing when triggered by less serious events. For example, you may feel that a subordinate colleague is plotting to take your job. If you allow this situation to trigger a fight or flight response, you’re likely to either engage in a physical confrontation with your colleague – or if you choose to flee, then you may end up handing in your notice.

Neither of the above reactions are rational. In truth, either one of them will leave you out of a job. Instead, you’d be much better off thinking of positive ways to deal with the situation. For example, you could develop your skills and experience to keep you ahead of your colleague, or you could speak directly to them to ascertain what their specific career goals were.

It’s vital that you’re able to clearly distinguish between life-threatening or highly-dangerous situations, and everyday threats such as family arguments and work pressures. The latter situations should not trigger a fight or flight response in you. As we’ve seen, this is likely to cause these situations to become even more negative. Instead, seek for non-aggressive and harmonious resolutions to your conflicts.

These 2 Simple Insights Will Help Boost Your Personal Growth

Is self-improvement important to you?

If yes, then you’re in the right place, as I’m going to give you two powerful insights that could definitely change your life for the better.

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1. Everyday threats offer you the chance to push and develop yourself.

Picture for a moment that you’ve just graduated from university. You’re excited by what you’ve learned and by the high grades you’ve achieved. However, after a few weeks of applying for relevant jobs, you discover that you’re not even making it to the interview stage.

As a new graduate, you may have anticipated that finding a job would be plain sailing. However, this expectation hasn’t been matched by reality. You now feel stressed and despondent.

What’s the problem? Is there a solution? Or should you just give up?

The answer to this dilemma is to find out where you’re going wrong. To do this, you should perform a personal SWOT analysis (SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).[1] You can complete this analysis by spending time thinking about your personal strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities are open to you, and what external threats you may face.

Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, you should be able to clearly identify key positives and negatives. To come back to the job-seeking example above, your SWOT analysis will most likely indicate that a principal weakness of yours is a lack of work experience. To counter this, you could offer to work for free for a few weeks, or perhaps accept an entry-level role to help get your career started.

Everyday threats should be seen for what they are: opportunities for you to advance in life.

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2. Your comfort zone can be defeated when you embrace threats.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term comfort zone. However, in case you’re not, I’ll give you a brief explanation.

Your comfort zone is the place where you feel mentally and emotionally at ease and free from pain.

For instance, if you’re single, you may have difficulty asking people out on a date. However much you like a prospective partner – something inside holds you back. You’re embarrassed to ask them out, and you’d feel much more comfortable with them asking YOU out.

The problem with comfort zones is that we have a tendency to get stuck within them.

Once this happens, our ambition and drive wanes, and our thought processes start to deteriorate. For these reasons, the term comfort zone can also be rendered as mindless zone!

Fortunately, you can use threats to help you break out of your mindless zone.

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As an example for you, think of a time when you’ve had a problem with a neighbor. It might have been that they were constantly making noise late at night, or their car was regularly blocking your driveway. For most of us, our comfort zone would prevent us from speaking directly to our neighbor about these problems. However, by embracing the issue, you could choose to use it as an opportunity to increase your confidence and boldness. By doing this, you would be stepping outside of your mindless zone – and at the same time, you’d hopefully be resolving the issue with your neighbor.

Other ways to smash through your mindless zone include:

  • Facing your fears.
  • Trying something new.
  • Moving towards a goal.
  • Changing your mindset.
  • Doing everyday things differently.

The secret to all these techniques is to start with small things – and then work your way up to bigger things. By doing this, you’ll also build a habit of continually stretching your beliefs and goals.

Threats are everywhere. But that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. By embracing threats, and learning from them, you can fast-track your personal development.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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