We attended a seminar on content development and as we left, my friend turned to me and said, “I can’t believe it’s the same person! I saw him speak a few months ago, and he was boring and didn’t even come out from behind the podium. I wonder how he changed?”
It wasn’t until many months after that event that I ran into the speaker and told him about my friend’s comments. He wasn’t surprised, of course, because a number of people had said the same thing to him. We grabbed coffee and he told me what was going on. Honestly, it sounded the same as the transition many leaders make in their quest for improvement. Here are a few of the takeaways:
Stop Expecting it to Feel Different
Leadership begins with a single step in the right direction. It won’t feel like you’re starting a new job or getting married. Instead, it’s going to feel just like it did a few moments prior. You will likely have the same anxieties and stressors, and make a lot of the same mistakes. The difference will be that you know you did something different. If you depend on a feeling to validate your leadership, you’ll end up undermining your ability to lead.
Act, Don’t Keep Thinking About Acting
Every good leader will tell you that leadership is about action, not waiting for the right moment to act. Seth Godin often frames it as “shipping.” How many of us, however, get caught up in the planning and critiquing and “strategy” of actions instead of simply acting? Most of us. If you want to instantly improve your leadership, start acting right now. You won’t learn as much from planning as you will from execution, so cancel all your meetings and start executing now!
Stop Thinking So Much About Yourself
One of the best kept secrets of inspiring leadership? Focusing on those you lead. I’ve worked with leaders from all aspects of business, entertainment, and life, and one recurring theme between those who lead well and those who do not - the ones with focus on the people they serve are always more successful. If you’re not sure how this should look, watch Gary Vaynerchuk help young entrepreneurs figure themselves out (hint: Google that phrase). It’s all about them, not him.
In the past few years, I’ve read a lot about generosity in the marketplace, but the vast majority of the advice remains tainted: Give to get. Imagine what it would be like to give without any expectation of return. Tony Robbins tells the story of being a broke young man in a restaurant, and upon seeing a little boy take his mother out to dinner, Tony gives the boy the last few dollars in his pocket. He was compelled to be generous with absolutely no expectation of return. In fact, he risked his financial future giving away all that he had in that moment. Years later, it’s easy to connect the dots from moments of generosity like that to his massive success today, but when you’re leading before you’re a star, you have to be generous with zero intention of gain.
Lead With What You Know
If you’re trying to lead based on what you want to know, there’s a solid chance you will crash and burn. Leadership begins with what you do know. Maybe it’s an area of expertise or maybe it’s your network. Whatever it is, upping your leadership game starts with your foundation. When you lead with what you know, people trust you. But what you know isn’t limited to a scope of expertise. Sometimes what you know is confidence, and the situation merely requires you to be confident in yourself.
Believe You Can Lead
When I think about everything I’ve accomplished in life, it’s clear that I first believed I was capable. I’ve written millions of words, held the stage in front of thousands, helped organizations worth hundreds of millions, and often jumped off the (proverbial) cliff before I could see the (proverbial) bottom. I’ve failed, of course. Many times I’ve fallen flat on my face. But I believed I would land on my feet. When I shoot for ten, I don’t expect to make five - I expect to make ten. And by believing in my ability to lead, I do, in fact, lead. Wins or misses, I lead.
How about you? Maybe you’re a weak leader and want to improve the situation. Maybe you’re not even certain you have what it takes to lead. Let me be the first to tell you, you can. Want some help? Reach out and ask.