What makes you come alive?
What makes your eyes light up?
What is it that makes you come alive?
I remember a long time ago hearing of a young man who had just finished his studies and went to see a wise old family friend. He said to the old man, 'Here I am, I have all my studies completed, what do you think I should do? What do you think the world needs?'
The old man smiled and replied, 'Son, you're asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is, what makes you come alive; what makes you're eyes light up? Go and find out what that is, and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'
I've thought about this story often over the years and the message it carries for each of us. Life is a gift. Also, it's not some kind of rehearsal for what's ahead - this is it!
Each of us can relate to being part of something that makes us come alive, yet so often we settle for much less. We know what lights our eyes up. We know what gives us a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.
Why then do we spend so much time simply going through the motions of life?
Early in a new year it's a good time to reflect and ask ourselves these questions afresh. It may be time for a change. It may be time to do something we've never done before. It might be that coming alive requires us to push out of the comfort zone a little.
Whatever it is, if it truly makes us come alive, those in our circle of influence will notice and benefit for sure.
What every Leader should know..
Leadership is a subject, a craft that has been honed and debated for centuries. It attracts all manner of discussion, enlightenment and revelation from many different practitioners and scholars, and has done so for hundreds of years. It has throughout history brought us many examples of ordinary people rising up to a need or a cause, going on to inspire nations and changing mindsets, achieving what seemed impossible at the time and creating a vision for others to follow for generations to come.
Yet sadly leadership has also been responsible for some of the world's most horrendous and at times tragic outcomes internationally. Dictators, abusing the use of power and privilege have taken advantage of vulnerable and defenceless people in desperate need of help and hope.
A lot has been done, or not done, in the name of leadership.
However, having said all that, leadership remains integral to our day-to-day lives in one way or another regardless of who we are, what we do or where we're from.
Something I've come to realise over many years and it's no rocket science really, yet some leaders struggle to see and understand it:
'People want to be treated a certain way.'
They don't want to be bullied, disrespected, taken for granted, or put down. They don't want to be alienated, rejected or treated like a piece of dirt on a shoe.
No, every person, every human being wants to be appreciated. They want to be shown respect and dignity. They want to be inspired and encouraged. They want to be valued and recognised as a person and not an object.
Perhaps, the leaders who are ego driven, self centred and full of self importance have a blind spot when it comes to understanding that people want to be treated a certain way. Or, is it also the case that some of these same leaders can turn the false charm on and off to suit the audience or occasion. This kind of leader also has a blind spot, because every around them can see that flaw except themselves.
When people are treated correctly, with dignity and respect, performance and achievement increases significantly. More than that, the fully engaged team willingly goes the extra mile without being asked.
Because they are treated in a certain way.
The benefit of senior level Non Executive support in organisations is well promoted these days, yet it has its share of challenges. Non Executives are really Directors whether they have a title or not, as most likely they contribute to strategic direction. Although they don't have direct responsibility for day to day management, they do influence those making decisions.
One of the main challenges that organisations face in the selection process is 'fit'. The truth is that those with a great range of experience on paper may not necessarily fit certain environments or teams. There are a number of examples where this has been tried and tested with the selection failing in a very public manner.
SME's and those with strong family involvement are sometimes reluctant to openly welcome Non Executive Directors (NED's) into businesses for a number of reasons. Often family business dynamics make it difficult to introduce outsiders to the sensitive side. There is also a level of scepticism present too with some NED's developing something of a notorious track record and occasionally possessing questionable motives.
However, that said there is still a growing trend to retain experienced Non Executive Directors in a wide range of companies with many success stories on record.
A Non Executive with the ability to connect with the wide and diverse range of personalities is a key ingredient for success. It's also important that the NED gains respect easily, has good facilitation and negotiating skills, along with a successful and varied background. Put these all together and any organisation will most likely benefit and perform better as a result.
The Non Executive works with an existing Executive team who are tasked with making the big day-to-day decisions on the ground. Like any important strategic process with far reaching implications, having a confidential sounding board and an objective contributor on hand to assist with complex decisions is without doubt beneficial.
The Non Executive with the right set of motives is clearly a valuable resource to any organisation experiencing growth, change or crisis.
The most successful are those who sit outside of company politics and internal lobby groups. It's so easy to get involved with something that stirs passion, whether a perceived injustice or a poor decision, yet exercising constraint is an important quality of the seasoned Non Exec.
That's why the strength of the Non Executive is objectivity. Their unbiased nature, offering 'counsel' rather than 'opinion' is what sets this function apart. The more structured organisations use the board room table for many such discussions, but others benefit from coaching input from an Non Exec on a more frequent basis. Either way support is worth considering as the selection of an experienced NED helps even the most under pressure senior teams stay calm and composed through change.
If you are an evolving organisation not content with the status quo, then why not consider at least exploring the option of Non Executive support. When entered into wisely, the benefits far outweigh the negatives every time.