Living out our purpose, and leading in ways that help inspire and enlighten other people.
This is, in part, the intention behind Leadercast Live – a one-day convergence of leaders, across the world – who come together to create an educational leadership experience.
With a theme of “Architects of Tomorrow,” Leadercast 2016 was held in-person in Atlanta, Georgia, but it was streamed to host sites from Kuwait to Kansas. More than 100,000 tuned in for the event. Speakers included Rorke Denver, author of ‘Worth Dying For: A Navy SEAL’s Call to a Nation” and star of American Grit; Nick Saban, University of Alabama Coach; Steve Wozniak, Apple Co-Founder; James Brown, CBS sports and news broadcaster, and many more.
There were too many insights to write about in just one blog, but here were 3 key insights I will take with me as I look to become a better leader.
Nick Saban, University of Alabama Coach, knows a lot about what it means to be a servant leader. “Don’t ever miss the opportunity to serve other people and help them the best way you can,” said Saban.
Saban said that as leaders, consider how you invest your time. “Sometimes your presence is really important, more so than anything else you can do, and everybody has time to do that,” he said.
And while physical presence and time with people is important, also give consideration to how you thank those you are leading. That can be forgotten, in many situations. “Don’t ever miss the opportunity to say, ‘Good job.’ Don’t ever miss the opportunity to say, ‘I appreciate what you did,’” said Saban. “There’s one thing that I always say with a thank you, there’s always an, ‘I owe you’ that goes with a thank you.”
Saban recalls this was a lesson that he learned while he was playing little league baseball in West Virginia as a child:
My little league coach would show me, I was nine years old, how to catch my balls. [I] still remember it like it was yesterday. He worked extra with me. My Dad was there to pick me up and when I walked off the field I said, “Thanks, Coach,” because I was eager to learn and wanted to play and all that. My Dad said to me, “With every thank you goes and I owe you.”
He asked his Dad what that meant, and his Dad explained that it meant, “I owe you my very best.” He said this past season he told his players the same thing: thank you, and I owe you my best for your work. “I thanked them for their hard work and all that they did, but then I said there’s an ‘I owe you.’ I owe you our very best in helping you be prepared and have the right mindset to go into the playoffs and to try to win the championship.”
In many ways, we tend to act on autopilot throughout the day: maybe it is when driving or maybe it just when getting ready in the morning. “That happens because our conscious brain uses lots of energy. We know this. If we learn something new that takes lots of attention, a musical instrument, or a new language, we tire quite quickly,” said Chris Barez-Brown from Upping Your Elvis, a creative capability company.
Barez-Brown explained even more about our subconscious: “Our subconscious, however, is very efficient. It saves energy by saying, ‘The thing that’s in front of me today, does it look familiar to something I’ve done before?’”
And if it does, then our conscious is able to, in essence, go to sleep. “It’s an important part of our programming, otherwise we could not survive,” he added. That drives efficiency, which is okay, but it’s not an ideal place we want to lead from, he argued.
“You cannot, from that place, say, ‘What’s needed here?’ Because you are not as connected, and you are not as conscious. I believe the trick to being a great leader, with real heart, is to get off autopilot.”
If we challenge this as much as possible—mix things up, try new activities and approaches, learn new ways of solving problems—we can be more engaged, tap into our creative genius, lead with more meaning, and not just live our lives on autopilot. How can we start to “wake up”?
Barez-Brown said we check in with ourselves, take a deep breath, put a smile on our face, look to have more fun, and say “What’s needed here?”
Leadership has “physics that pushes you into a corner where there may be no connection,” but that’s something we must work against, said Dr. Henry Cloud, who is a leadership expert, Clinical Psychologist, and best-selling author.
“The question isn’t if people have power in our lives,” said Cloud. “The question is: What kind of power do they have?” According to Cloud, the power is in our connection that we have when we engage with others – what he deemed the “power of the other.”
During his speech, Cloud told the story of Navy SEAL candidate who had only about 50 yards left to swim. If he could finish that swim, he would be a Navy SEAL.
The man could get through the pain, but he simply didn’t have any energy left—he had reached the point at which his body had no energy reserves left whatsoever.
“He said he going down. He tried to will it, he tried to force it, he tried to do everything, but he was at his limit and he started going down” in the water, shared Cloud. “He saw his life flash before his eyes, and then he says he’s going down, he looks up on the beach and Mark [another SEAL candidate who had completed the swim moments prior] is on the beach and their eyes catch for a moment.”
Cloud shared how the SEAL candidate in the water locked eyes with Mark, who then yelled, “Go!”
Despite complete physical and mental exhaustion, he made it to the beach, and he became a SEAL – a testament to “the power of the other.”
“How can something invisible and immaterial like a human connection actually affect the physical and material world?” Cloud asked, explaining that psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists, chemists, physicists and theologians have examined what’s called the “mind body problem.” For decades, they’ve examined its power and impact on our performance.
“We don’t quite know how it works, but we know that it works, and we know that in this whole line of leadership, that all of the strategy and all that stuff is important, but it is this connection that drives performance.”
They may not know everything about how it works, but they do know that performance, thinking, creativity, problem solving, perseverance and judgment are all affected by our ability to connect with others.
Being a “leader worth following,” is about having values and behaviors, and leading with intention and purpose. Once again this year, that theme came through. Leadercast is an event for people who want to think and behave differently. If you are looking to lead and create longstanding results and relationships, then visit www.leadercast.com to learn more.
READ MORE: “The Top Reasons Why Tech Projects Fail”
Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service Inc.