When my daughter Sydney was in the 2nd grade we knew she was struggling in school. She would come home most days stressed, worried, overwhelmed and in tears. While she was still doing well with her grades and there were zero discipline issues, we knew something was just “off.”
After some time we received an invitation from Sydney’s teacher for a conference. Understand, when I was younger my poor parents suffered through many of these conferences where they were told everything that I was doing wrong, which happened to be a lot! Then they would hear what they should do or what I needed to do to fix it.
At our conference Sydney’s teacher, Mrs. Masters, walked us through what she perceived to be the stressors for Syd. I already knew most of these. I felt myself brace for a lecture on what we needed to do or some extra step my little girl needed to take. Instead, Mrs. Masters put her notes down, looked us in the eye, and with care in her voice asked a question, "What can I do to help?"
It may not seem like much to you, but that simple question melted away every bit of tension inside of me. Instead of instructing, she listened. Rather than telling, she served. In place of being the expert, she was empathetic. Mrs. Masters set herself apart with one question. She turned being a leader on it’s head.
Most would argue that leaders tell people what they need to do. Leaders are firm. Leaders tell, leaders do not ask. Leaders have answers. There is truth in that. However, there is also a different way to approach influencing people. While we are called on to be curators of courage among those we lead, the boldest leaders serve those who follow them. Mrs. Masters is a shining example of this. She led in a different way. I believe you can too.
Here are 3 leadership mantras that can reshape the way you think and help you get results with people.
Don’t impress people, impact them.
People are impressed by talent, they are impacted by authenticity. People want the real you. Authenticity leads to approachability. Being real builds trust. You can impress people from a distance but you can only impact people up close. Be vulnerable and open your life up to people for the best impact. Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.
The best ever at this approach was Jesus. On the exterior he was not impressive. Jesus was a carpenter. Actually, the word used to define his profession was “TEKTON.” No that is not a character from Star Wars. It is a day laborer. It is the kind of guy who hangs out in front of Home Depot waiting for a truck to come by to offer him a job. He would go from city to city looking for work. He was the poorest of the poor. That was Jesus’ resume. How did a person like that change the world? He impacted people instead of trying to impress them.
Your kids, your employees, those you lead, the next generation are not looking for you to be cool or proficient on Instagram…they’re looking for you to be real. Authenticity is not simply important to the next generation, it is a requirement. One of the most influential people of this generation has used authenticity as her platform. Test this theory: Open your life up to 2 people over the next month and watch your influence grow.
Invest in people others dismiss.
Walt Disney is a hero of mine. When designing his first park in California he birthed a principle that is still part of the staff training at Disney parks today. “We focus the most on those whom others focus the least.” This is seen clearly in how Disney staff kneel down to speak to a child before they ever acknowledge an adult. Parents pay thousands of dollars because of the magic created by this principle.
Regardless of your profession, people are your cause. Making lives better is the goal of any business, product or service. Focusing on people who feel forgotten will win you fans for life. Spend your time investing in and reminding these people that they can be great.
When we invest in the stock market the key is to “invest low and sell high.” The secret is finding a commodity at its lowest point before it begins to soar. Think of relationships in a similar way. Invest in people when their stock is low. Once they begin to soar, your influence will be a reason why.
Add value instead of increasing volume.
What image of passion do you have? Too often I think of the guy at the gym wearing the uncomfortably small spandex shorts who is screaming as he lifts weights. What differentiates that guy from leaders who move people with passion? Here is one thought, if you notice that guy is working out all ALONE!
Passion is less about volume and more about value. Passion is not just excitement, passion moves people. It is a tenaciousness that emerges from a desire inside of you that will not go away. Passion is not about who screams the loudest, it is about who creates the most action around their cause. Volume gets attention, action brings change.
What keeps you up at night? Wakes you in the morning? What makes you cry or makes you angry? What bothers you every time you see it? Is there an area where you are unwilling to settle? Perhaps that is a point of passion in your life. Do not simply make noise about it, do something about it. Make the call, go on the trip, have the meeting, infuse some passion on your team. Do something!
Mrs. Masters helped me rethink leadership. That day she offered to privately tutor Sydney every morning prior to school. Sydney began to thrive. Today Mrs. Masters is a revered person in our family because of her approach. She changed my perspective about leading people and impacted my little girl. There are people around you waiting to be led, perhaps that requires your perspective changing as well.