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Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently

Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently

Do you feel like your spend your days reacting to everything that happens to you, and you wish that you could stop the merry-go-round and have things go the way you want them?

In my coaching practice, I have found that the brilliant leaders among us have figured out how to do this. They have a vision of what they want their future to look like, and a mindset that allows them to get it. Here are 11 ways that great leaders view the future that allows them to shape it:

1. They know it is foolish to label anything as “good” or “bad.”

When something doesn’t go the way you want it to, it’s tempting to call it a “failure” and lick your wounds. But the thing is, oftentimes something that you initially thought was unfortunate ends up being one of the best things that ever happened to you. Losing your job opened the way for you to start your million-dollar business, or being rejected from the high school football team gave you the time to find your true passion of music. Brilliant leaders don’t beat themselves up over short-term “failures,” but instead keep an amused eye on how it plays out in the long term.

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2. They understand that a great future is only possible with a LOT of mistakes in the present.

It’s tempting to beat yourself up when you make a mistake and lose an important account, or miss a key opportunity. But brilliant leaders know that you can only BE a brilliant leader through a lot of learning and growing — and that making mistakes is by far the best way to do this. Not many leaders were born brilliant, but all were forged to be brilliant by being hit many, many times with the anvil of failure.

3. They know that little things can make a big difference.

A professor of mine used to leave a piece of trash on the ground whenever he would interview candidates, and look to see which of them would pick it up and throw it away. He would give that person the job. The moral of the story: You never know how a little thing like picking up a piece of trash will lead to something much bigger, like you getting the job. So be sure that you live each day in a way that makes you proud.

4. They live in the present as if the future is already here.

Have you ever noticed that if you believe something will happen, it is more likely to? This is because you notice opportunities, and send signals (that other people then react to) that you wouldn’t if you didn’t believe in that future for yourself. For example, if you believed that you would be president one day, then you would act like someone presidential. You would volunteer to give talks, people would notice that you are someone with an air of confidence and vision, and then this would open doors to get you closer and closer to the White House. Brilliant leaders know that if you act like your future self, that self is more likely to happen.

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5. They understand that the unthinkable will happen.

The thing that goes wrong is almost always the one thing you never thought would go wrong. This is why worrying is so pointless. Brilliant leaders know that worrying is a waste of energy, and so instead stay alert for whatever might come their way.

6. They know that the best way to prepare for the unthinkable is to keep themselves in great shape.

Your response to the unthinkable is mostly governed by gut reaction, because you simply can’t rehearse in advance. So you need to make sure that you are in peak form at all times. This is a tall order, I know, but there are some simple rules you can follow to keep yourself in great shape: sleep enough, exercise often, eat healthily, do one thing that challenges you daily, and do one act of kindness daily. If you keep yourself tuned up in this way, you will be able to put your best foot forward when the unthinkable happens.

7. They know that there are many paths to get to the same place.

It can be tempting to think that the ONE path in front of you is the only way to get what you want. But a brilliant leader knows that life is long, and that the only limit on number of paths from A to B is your ability to think of them. In fact, by bemoaning “the one that got away,” you actually prevent yourself from thinking of all of the other paths. So if one fails, start searching for the next right way!

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8. They understand that some things won’t change.

How much energy do you spend wishing that your partner, officemate, or neighbor will change? And then getting really upset when they don’t? A brilliant leader knows that it is futile to try to change people, and so devises strategies to work with them. Sure, you can help them grow, but your relationship with them shouldn’t depend on them growing.

9. They know that everything changes.

As the old saying goes, the only thing that never changes is change. As humans, we are not programmed to like change, but this hinders our ability to grow and evolve. A brilliant leader is comfortable with themselves and not attached to how things are. They see change not as threatening, but as full of potential.

10. They know what is in their control… and what is not.

At the end of the day, all you have control over is yourself. How you behave, how much you love, how smartly you work, how much you honor your core values, how much you inspire others. A brilliant leader knows that their main job is to be the best leader they can be, and that that is quite a lot.

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11. They value people.

Brilliant leaders know that no amount of hard work on their own will get them where they want to go. They need relationships with people who believe in them and their cause, and those relationships are actually the most important thing.

Which one of this list will you bring into your life this week? Write a note and share!

— Samantha

Featured photo credit: Blue Eye/ Rob Unreall via flickr.com

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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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