4 Ways to be a Kickass Leader
“What does it mean to be a leader?” is a question that I’ve been playing with and what the crew of glow exchangers are facing daily.
We tend to think that leadership means trying to accomplish something. It means getting people to perform in a certain way. False. That’s bossing people around. That’s manipulation. Not inspiration.
A leader means to hold a vision of a new way of being. If something isn’t working, let’s use progress in Masaka, Uganda as an example, then as a leader you need to envision something else.
In Masaka, Uganda (the first location of The Glow Exchange and the soon-to-be Glow Effect Center for Women and Girls), these women have little to no access to water, information, and electricity. The predictable future is that the developed world will continue to advance, while these women fall behind in opportunities as they focus on survival.
Obviously, something isn’t working. Sparking change must begin by cultivating leaders in the community and outside the community to spread the word. There must be a shift in perception within the area and the world as to how these women and their empowerment is crucial for all of humanity.
This is what it means to be a leader: to hold a vision of a different way of being. In Masaka, it means envisioning a community that’s tapped into resources, global relationships and information. It means envisioning a community that’s thriving, not just surviving.
…and then getting the world to not only see this vision, but be so moved, touched and inspired that they can’t stop themselves from contributing.
Many involved will be challenged by obstacles on this journey. This is where the leadership of all individuals is crucial.
The goal of a leader is not create followers; the goal is to create more leaders. In other words, create a vision so compelling so that all involved want to take on the vision as their own.
Clearly, this Masaka vision is a big feat and perhaps not the type that you want to take on. Perhaps you want to transform the way your family sees your career, the way men perceive you as a partner, or the way your team at works sees a project.
Here are four ways to up your ability to transform perception and be a badass leader:
1. Know how your listener is listening.
Not every conversation about your vision will be the same. Terms like “soul” or “GDP,” for example, aren’t appropriate for everyone.
Enter every conversation, not with judgment about the other’s listening, rather acknowledgment and compassion. This person may have a different language than you, but it’s equally as valid.
2. Know how YOU are listening.
Are you on the defensive? Are you leaning forward trying to shield some belief?
When I first started with the Masaka vision, one of my biggest fears was “What if someone notices that I’m a naïve Jewish girl from Pittsburgh trying to shake the world?” So I did everything I could to defend against people seeing that. I came off as preachy and inauthentic. Then my coach said, “But Saren, it’s true.”
People will see what you think you’re hiding, so front with it. Own it. Your fears are showing anyway, especially if you’re using a pretense. When you acknowledge these fears, you can enter conversations and actually hear what people are saying versus shielding all of your concerns.
3. Stay peaceful, glowing, and optimistic.
The success of a vision depends on your ability to keep cool in extremely high-pressure situations. During stressful times, the world looks to you to hold the vision. A frantic leader results in a frantic movement.
4. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
Let’s be real: there will be lots and lots of obstacles. With each obstacle, you have a choice: focus on the problem or the solution. The best part is that your solution may lead to a better vision than you could have ever imagined.
The answer for how to emerge from a problem will not show up by analyzing problem. You require creativity, which only emerges from looking forward.
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