As we begin all the festivities that surround the 4th of July, I want to utilize this time to pull out some great qualities we can use from those 56 men who put their life on the line for the freedoms we enjoy today. Just by taking a surface level look into these men can give us some great principles to use in our everyday leadership and influence opportunities we have in our businesses and organizations.
Lead Without Fear
These men had great resolve and confidence in their success. This was, I believe, mostly based on their faith in the power and protection of God. They were effectively signing away their protection from the British Army. John Hancock had a large reward for his capture by the British Army. There were other who had their families and businesses threatened. Even with these circumstances, they still pressed forward for the betterment of the people. When asked about the size of his signature on the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock stated: “The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward.”
Fear can be an overwhelming emotional state for anyone. It is what we like to call a limiting belief. If you are fearful of what others may say or think of your actions, then you are limiting your influence. The Bible mentions the words “Fear Not” 365 times. I am in the process of conducting a study on fear in the Bible and have many examples of times that, lack of fear, caused a great blessing. Why is this? Well, the opposite of fear is confidence. Being confident that God will strengthen and provide for you. Being confident that you can succeed no matter the hurdles. Fear will cripple the mind and give you false outcomes based only on perception. Marcus Aurelius gives some insight to this in the following statement: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” We can, at any moment, make the choice to push aside our fear and chose courage. This will set you free to act!
Lead With Action
These brave and valiant men knew that in order for them to secure a nation that was free from Britain was to take massive action. And they did just that. They debated and argued and wrote and re-wrote, until the final text was just perfect. They took massive action to stand on principles of God and freedom. Some of them continued to take action by fighting in the Revolutionary War and 9 of the signers of the Declaration were killed in the war.
Taking action requires a deep resolve that can only be found in the best leaders. Leadership has no room for apprehension, procrastination or indecisiveness. In order to lead others well, we must be willing to make the tough calls and take action when necessary, without delay. The livelihoods of those we lead depend on it.
These 56 men that took a stand on that wonderful day 241 years ago, to secure the freedoms we realize today. They did it with remarkable leadership and a fearless mindset. They could see what this document would do for the future of our great country and that is what leaders do. They see when no else can and before anyone else does.
I think we all can look back on our work experience and find at least one manager that we worked for that was just that, a “manager”. This person can usually be described as someone that is on a power trip, or abusing their authority. They could also be tagged as not personable and only interested in themselves. They might call themselves a leader, but if you ask their colleagues, they would describe them as a “boss”. They would be a leader with no followers (see our last post for a deeper dive into this).
If you are not positively influencing your people, then you cannot call yourself a leader. In order to positively influence your people, you need to get personal with them. It is impossible to perform your mission as a leader from a distance. Your people must see your vulnerability. I know this word is avoided at all cost for most of us in leadership roles because we think it shows weakness, myself included. It does not show weakness, instead it shows that you are not larger than life, and you deal with the same issues as your team. Part of influencing your team requires you to nurture them and become their personal coach and cheerleader at the same time. It is impossible for your to lead if you do not care and love other people, if you are not willing to get personal with them. Yes, this requires you to be vulnerable, it will be uncomfortable. DEAL WITH IT! The success of those people will determine the ultimate success of your business.
“Without love, there can be no connection; no future; and no success together.”- Becoming A Person of Influence- John Maxwell & Jim Dornan
“People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” William Wells Brown
Our society today has become obsessed with titles. Climbing the corporate ladder to become a “manger” or a vice president of a department seems to be on the bucket list for most aspiring business people. Does being a vice president or even a CEO or even an owner mean you are a good leader? In order to be a leader, you must have people following you. As was stated by former speaker of the house, John Boehner, ” A leader without any followers, is simply a man taking a walk.” If you want to create followers, you must be clear on your purpose. People will not follow you because of what you are doing or your position while you do it. They will follow you because of WHY you are doing it.
If your why is to make a lot of money, then be prepared to attract greed filled, back stabbing followers. The key is to be clear on your why. No one explains this better than Simon Sinek. He stated in a TED talk that “Great companies communicate from inside out.” What he is saying is, first, lay the ground work for why you do what you do and then determine the how and what. A perfect example is Martin Luther King, Jr’s historic speech during the “March on Washington”. This was a time that we had no social media, cell phones or email. Yet 250,000 plus people knew exactly where to go and when to be there for his speech. Why was this? They didn’t show up for Martin Luther King Jr., they showed up for what he believed.
If you feel as if the people you are tasked to lead are not actually following you, just following orders, then I would suggest what I call a “Vision Day.” This is a day spent away from the office and with you sharing with your team your why. Allow them to ask questions and open up about the answers. If they understand and believe your why as much as you do, that just increases the number of people driving toward the same goal.
All of us can look back at some point in our lives and point to a person that impacted us and influenced a lot of the direction in our lives. We continually reflect back on the times spent with those people, especially during decision making points in our lives. I was fortunate enough to have a few people in my life that greatly impacted a lot of what I know and do today.
My dad taught me responsibility as a man and what that looked like from a practical example of how he lived his life. There two other men as well that played a huge role in my life. My granddad and another gentlemen I had the privilege of working with for many years. Both these men greatly impacted my professional life and taught me many things about business, work ethic, communication, negotiation and team members. They both responsible for the profession that I chose to pursue.
As was said in my previous post, leaders influence people. To influence others, you must impact them in some way. In this age of smartphones, where the average attention span of a human is 8 seconds, less than a goldfish, it is becoming increasingly harder to make that impact. I have used a couple things lately that may help you ensure those you lead are really latching on to the teaching and not being distracted.
First, Truly Care About Their Needs
Sincerity is easily detected by those around you. If you really care about those that you are leading, they will be able to see. Likewise, if you are not sincerely engaged in the needs of those around you, they will easily be able to detect this, no matter how much you try to hide it. To impact others, you must truly care about their needs.
Secondly, Remove All Distractions During Meetings
One on one meetings with your team are essential in any business, small or large. These meetings allow you to effectively connect with each team member individually. In John Maxwell’s book, Becoming a Person of Influence, there is an entire chapter dedicated to connecting with your people. In this chapter there is a quote from John Luther that illustrates this well. He says, “Natural talent, intelligence, a wonderful education…none of these guarantees success. Something else is needed: the sensitivity to understand what other people want and the willingness to give it to them.” When you conduct these meetings, turn off or completely silence your phone and don’t have any screens available to distract you during the meeting. Be present and fully engaged with your team when you are with them. This will go a long way to influencing them in a positive way.
Connection and sincerity are two key factors to helping you impact others with your leadership. Hopefully these things will help you achieve the maximum impact with those you lead.
I have 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. My oldest son is 5 and he is beginning to enjoy doing the same things that I do. For example, my family has always been involved in athletics, but we really focused on baseball. I watch baseball and really wanted my sons to like the game, but wasn’t going to force it on them. It seems like overnight they all three have started loving the game and want to play all the time. What seems like overnight has really been the last 5 years of his life. I have influenced him to like the game that I loved playing and really wasn’t even trying at it.
As a leader in my business, I have this same affect on my team. My team is influenced by the way I handle myself. This applies to everything I do, whether it be work ethic, temperament, integrity, decisiveness just to name a few. It is imperative that I always keep that in the forefront of my mind. The decisions I make not only influence the direction of the company, but they also influence the lives of my team. It is my job to nurture the lives of my team and to do this I must be a positive influence in their lives.
The Bible gives us some great examples of outstanding leadership all the way through the book. Nehemiah shows us a powerful example of influence when he rebuilt the walls in Jerusalem. Nehemiah was called to return to his homeland and lead the production of rebuilding the city walls and gates. After he had spent 3 days getting his plan together to rebuild the city, he addressed the people. Nehemiah had a strong faith, but some of the Israelite people were lacking in faith at the time. Nehemiah got to work and along the way begin building the faith of his team as they rebuilt the city. He did this by honoring the characteristics of an influencing leader. John Maxwell and Jim Dornan describe these characteristics in their book “Becoming a Person of Influence”. He breaks it down with an acronym to the work Influencer.
I- integrity with people
N- nurtures other people
F- faith in people
L- listens to people
U- understand people
E- enlarges people
N- navigates for other people
C- connects with people
E- empowers people
R- reproduces other influencers
Think about these traits and search yourself to see which ones you could improve on. Let’s all strive to be a better influencer of our teams.
“Everything rises and falls on Leadership”- John Maxwell