Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. I’m Steve Nathenson, CEO and founder of Strive for More and recently, we’ve been talking about leadership. What is it? What style’s the best and what style or styles are right for you? We want to continue that conversation with you and provide some extra guidance that are going to help further really get into your own as a leader and who you want to be. And that’s what we’ll focus on today. Who do we truly want to be as leaders? The last episode, we did a very practical exercise to dig into questions, engage how much you agree, or, excuse me, you didn’t agree with them that allowed you to see which styles start to feel right for you and to what extent. So let’s take that a step further today and help you truly understand additional qualities that define who you are as a leader.

What makes this as important is just because there’s these styles out there and these theories around what leadership it is and what’s contained in each of them, doesn’t mean that one is exactly right for us or all of them are right for us or none of them are right for us, we need to figure out what is truly appropriate for us as individuals to lead. So going beyond what we’ve done already, there’s two things I want to ask today that we’ll dive into, the first of which is how you define leadership, and then the second of which is what your experiences have been with leaders in your life. What you’ve taken away as, “This is definitely not how I want to lead,” and what you’ve taken away, “Wow, this is something that truly resonated with me and this is something I want to emulate. This is something I want to take on to be the kind of leader that I can be.”

The importance behind all of this is we really want to be authentic as leaders. As human beings, we really do have a good BS meter to see who’s being fake, who’s just stepping over other people to climb the corporate ladder and get to where they want to go and they don’t really care about other people. We’ve all experienced that. If you want to truly lead people, we have to find something that is right and authentic to us because it comes across so much better to the people that we lead and it serves them and it serves you. There’s alignment and fulfillment in being that way. So let’s start with our definition of leadership. For me, leadership is the ability to inspire others to be a part of something greater than themselves. That’s how I define leadership. I’m going to break that apart here in a second, but that’s the question that I’m going to throw out for you first.

You can grab a pen and paper and do this after the episode as I walk you through the steps to do it, or you could do it at any other time that you want, or you could do it now as we’re talking, but that definition of leadership is a fundamental piece that’s going to really bring out who we want to be as a leader. Now, you may find this difficult at first. You may not have that clear definition. You may struggle of put it onto paper and that’s okay. Take some time with it. Think about it. Maybe write a couple different additions of it. That’ll be okay because we can always tweak it after we go through the second part today. It’s just one potential way of starting to lift that veil, the veils, excuse me, and start seeing what elements are really there for us that we want to subscribe to as a leader.

So let’s get back to my definition, the ability to inspire others to be a part of something greater than themselves. Let’s start with the first part, the ability. We’ve talked about trait leadership, we’ve talked about skill leadership, whether we think we’re born as leaders and that’s the way it is or we think that we can develop leadership skills and we subscribe to that skill theory, either way, the ability factor kind of plays into both. So I may have an innate ability to really resonate with others, but I can also learn and grow and develop that over time as well. So for me, this is something that can be learned. Whether we have a certain degree of it when we’re born or not is irrelevant. We can grow and harness this capability, this ability. So that’s the first part. This is something that we can grow and develop.

Inspire others, that second part for me, inspiration has three parts. It is evoked, meaning it comes from others, it creates motivation, so there’s a motivational factor and there’s a transcendence factor in it. What that means is we help people go beyond what they would naturally normally do currently. So for me, when we look at that definition and we look at inspiration, there’s already inherently three different elements that come out, in addition to the ability part of it. It’s something that I do regarding people, it’s something I do that motivates them and drives them, and it’s something that lifts them up and makes them a part of something that they wouldn’t normally be doing otherwise. Part of the key to all this too is there’s not a single thing about tasks in there. It’s all about people.

It gets back to one of the first questions I’ve asked in this series of podcasts around leadership is leadership is blank oriented and management is blank oriented, right? The spoiler alert that we’ve probably listened to already is leadership is people oriented. So for me, that inspiration factor, it gets to that. I’ve got to be able to motivate them, transcend them, and it’s got to come from me and in order to do that, need to really resonate with them. I have to have strong connections and relationships with them. I have to know what makes them tick. I have to know what they value, who they are as people. That comes out as we start breaking that further and further and further down from the elements of my definition. So let’s get to that last part, a part of something greater than themselves.

There’s inherent purpose and passion that’s in that. Yes, we can help people transcend where they are, but we’re doing that now in a way that makes them feel like they are making an impact. They’re doing something that goes beyond just them and their world of concern. They’re making a powerful, purposeful impact on the world at large and around them. So in order to do that, we have to again, know what their passion is, the purpose that we’re driving people to, the purpose that aligns with them and gives them fulfillment, their values, what they need as human beings, what they truly care about. Again, it gets down to that connection of who are they and our ability to know that about them. So for me, that is my definition of leadership.

And as we start to break that apart, you can see how much is truly underneath that, and allows me to know who am I going to be as a leader? What’s important for me to be able to do the connections to form? What I need to know about others and how I leverage that to get to where we all want to go. And one last part of this is that vision, clarity of vision, clarity of purpose, being able to communicate that effectively and get people to buy in, get them engaged in it. That’s the last thing that goes into being a part of something greater than themselves. We have to be able to share that compelling vision that enables, empowers, motivates, inspires, and drives people to fulfill that purpose and that passion. So this is just one potential way of really exploring who we want to be as leaders.

So I’ll give you some time to think about that. Who do you want to be as a leader? How do you define leadership? If you want, go ahead, pause the episode, take a crack at defining leadership and see what comes to mind. When you’re ready to return, we’ll be here. Or if you want to do that after, that’s okay as well. The second thing I wanted to get into today is our experiences. We’ve all had leaders in some capacity in our lives, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in sports, whether it’s school, at home, even in club and organizations. People can exhibit leadership at any point in life. It’s not tied to position and title. So as we explore the leaders that we’ve experienced in our life, there’s really two separate avenues that can help us understand who do we want to be as leaders. The first and often the easiest, what we don’t like, what we don’t enjoy, what we thought was really, really bad and terrible and wrong and rubbed us the wrong way, it’s often easier to characterize that.

So again, with pen and paper, we can write down what did I not like about leaders that I’ve had in that past? The beauty in that is once we’ve created that list, we can literally flip it and write their opposites and that can help us understand, well, what do we like as leaders? For example, you may have a leader who doesn’t listen at all. They don’t care what people say. “I’m the boss. You do what I say, no ands, ifs, or buts, end of story. Go forth and prosper. If you don’t like it too bad.” We’ve all experienced that, unfortunately at various points in our life. If you haven’t, that’s good, but to some capacity, we most likely have. What we can learn from that though in this vein, in this exercise is I don’t like leaders who don’t listen, who don’t value the opinions of others.

What does that tell me? I want to leader that does listen and truly hear what I have to say. They may not ultimately end up going with what we’ve recommended or what we say. That’s okay. As long as we feel like we actually have a seat at the table and we’ve been heard, that’s important. When we feel like we’ve actually been heard and they’ve valued our opinion and they’ve thought about it, it does soften that blow that they don’t go with it, but we at least feel like we are a part of it and we’re not just dismissed. So what we can learn from this is I love leaders who listen and leaders who value what others have to say. On the opposite end of the spectrum. We can see things that leaders have done in our careers that we really have loved and have resonated with us. So we already naturally getting rid of the non serving, the negative side of it, can look at the positive, the serving side of it.

For me, this is an example I’ve shared before, I had as an FBI agent, an experience with the head agent in our office after hours, late in the day, after a lot of people had gone home and I was pretty much the only one working on my floor, come down to me and congratulate me on something that happened in one of my cases. That meant the world to me that they took their time to come and congratulate me and it was at a time when most people were already gone. They showed me something in that. They showed me that they cared, that they valued me. Whether we need to hear we did a good job or not is a quick aside, it’s always nice to hear it. And having someone take time out of their day to go visit someone who may have never met them before, who may never think that, “Ah, they’re the head of this office, they’re the CEO of our company. They don’t know me from Adam. Why would they ever bother to say hi to me or congratulate me?”

Think about what that would mean to you to have someone like that do that. It shows that they truly with one simple act. So looking at the experiences we’ve had with leaders throughout our lives can show us again, what really resonated with us and what do we want to do as leaders. That right there tells me it’s important, no matter who is in my organization or who I’m working with, that personal touch and that connection and that small act can mean so much to people. This second part of today is really drawing upon what we’ve seen in life that we like and we don’t like. These are just two additional exercises that can really help understand who do we want to be as leaders? And it can help create that clarity around it. We’ve talked about leadership, it’s a concept. It can be hard to define. It can be hard to put your finger on it and put into words.

These two exercises overcome those gaps and it starts giving you the specific characteristic, in addition to say the theories that did resonate with you in the styles and what’s contained in each of those that can allow you to truly craft your own style leadership and be who you want to be and do it in a way that’s truly right and authentic for you. So I’ll leave it there today. If you have any questions, more than happy to answer them. I’d love to hear from you. Please just reach out to us. Until the next time, be the movement in your life.


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