The language of leadership and building a movement
Ilike to treat leadership like a language…if you wanted to learn Spanish, would you learn more from a 12 month Spanish course at a language college or by living in Spain for one month? Arguably you would say by living in Spain…Why? Because you are surrounded by the language 24/7, to maximise your experience or to even get by you are speaking and hearing it everyday, not just a few times a week… you are working on your Spanish 24/7 whether you realise it or not when you are surrounded by it.
To become the best Leader possible, you must speak the Leadership Language 24/7, be conscious and implement leadership strategies on a daily basis and only then you will find yourself fluent in Leadership.
So ask yourself, am I improving my standing as leader each and everyday?
There are many facets of Leaderships that have been and will continue to be covered over time, however the one facet that has always intrigued me and the one that the most effective leaders of our generation possess, is the innate ability and artistry to use their Leadership skills to create a movement: A movement with both the brand they represent and a movement within the organisation itself.
Throughout history, the nucleus of the most powerful movements is often a Mandela, Mother Theresa or Ghandi type figure or in business a Nooyi, Branson or Welch type figure and one thing they all had in common is the ability to create a group of people with a common ideology.
When we talk Leadership, I believe it’s the leaders that can create a group of people with a common ideology, that will blow their competitors apart and catapult their business and people to new heights they could hardly imagine on their own…this is the type of leader to aspire to.
To live and breathe, this day in day out, would be to treat Leadership as a Language. Here are four leadership language lessons to enable you as a leader to build the most powerful movement possible.
1. Purpose of Communication
Maybe because it’s simple and easy but too often we communicate ‘What’ it is we want people to follow, yet the what merely reinforces the logical components of the direction as opposed to the vision. Simon Sinek and his ‘golden circle’ place emphasis on the ‘WHY’ because “it’s often the complete opposite to everyone else. People don’t buy into what you do but they buy into Why you do it.
The Why creates belief and people believe what you believe. If you communicate about what you believe, you’ll attract those who believe what you believe. Sinek goes on to say that “The WHAT is merely the proof behind what you believe”, so please remember that people don’t buy into what you do, they buy into WHY you do it.”
Here is another way to look at it… You can choose to communicate three key areas: 1. The What. 2. The Outcome of the What, or 3. The Effects of The Outcomes. The effects of the Outcomes resonate deeper with people and reverberate on a more emotional level that aligns with purpose.
As a Leader we are often looking into new horizons, seeing and looking for what others don’t, venturing where others wouldn’t dare and tinkering with a universe that doesn’t yet exist. For this reason the Leader needs to have the ‘Guts’ to stand alone and even look ridiculous in the eyes of others.
Nelson Mandela had the guts to stand firm, follow through and face the repercussions of his actions and beliefs so as to lead the way.
3. Be Easy to Follow
So many times the road ahead can seem complex, challenging, even risky at first sight…all leading to visions that could create doubt and uncertainty in your team.
Be easy to follow by making the complex seem simple, the challenging seem rewarding the risky seem exciting and communicate as such.
Master the art of being able to break down the unimaginable, into manageable steps/actions and rehearse clearly articulating this.
It’s the early adapters or the first followers that everyone often follows. and a clever leader will have a complete focus on embracing these early adapters or the first followers.
Focus on embracing the early adapters or first followers as equals, this way it’s not only about the leader anymore but about them, the plural. It does take guts to be the first follower and it’s the early adapter or first follower that transforms the leader with the new, complex, challenging or risky idea into a leader and visionary. Remember, there is no movement without the early adapters or first followers.
‘ Remember that Leadership is a language and the more you speak it, the more natural it will become. What you do have to remember is, that it is a universal language
that the whole world is craving to speak.’
It could be said that the early adapter or the first follower is actually a form of leadership in itself as they may brave ridicule and this takes guts...so edifying them will create a security and belonging for others to buy in quicker to the movement. (This is something Steve Jobs and Apple did very well, which is why you would see hundreds waiting in line before an Apple store opens to buy the new version of the iphone/ ipad etc.)
Creating a movement as a leader is no easy feat which is why so few succeed, yet it it the real testament of a great leader.
On results alone, one of the greatest leaders of our time Jack Welch says it best…”
“Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.”
Remember that Leadership is a language and the more you speak it, the more natural it will become. What you do have to remember is, that it is a universal language that the whole world is craving to speak.”
I’ll leave you with one more Welch bomb...
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”