Fostering Relationships: The Power of Importance

Feeling important is a driving force for leaders.  Like most things, this force is used for good and bad.  Leaders who have a need to feel important for the sole purpose of being a person of importance lead a shallow and roller-coaster life.  Their sense of self-worth is so attached to their current position of power or influence that they end up being very self-centered.  This is a dangerous way to lead because when your focus is solely or mostly on self, you can act in ways that only serve you – dishonesty, cheating, rudeness, etc.

The productive angle on importance is to have a need to feel important because you desire to do important, meaningful and valuable work.  This method drives you, but unlike the first approach, the end goal is not to spotlight you, but to spotlight the end results of your work.  Your self-worth is still attached to something, but it is something that is benefiting the big world, not just your little world.

The power of importance can not be overstated when dealing with other people.  If you think of your “favorite people” list, a common trait they probably all have is they lift you up and make you feel good when you are around them.  Leverage this dynamic to play a positive role in the emotional maturity and quality of life of the people around you. 

Remember, when you make others feel more important than they actually are, you become more important to them.  What a great way to be a person of importance in your home life, school or work life – to lift up others.


Skill Assessment: Grow Into Who You Used To Be

I have the great privilege once again of speaking to my alma mater this afternoon - Oklahoma State University.  I will have 75 leaders from across the campus in Tulsa for two hours.  The program is one I created a few years back called the Unmade Leader.  The concept is very simple - leaders are born and then unmade.  It is based on research and observations that as young people we have many traits that make us great leaders.  Then over time, because of pride, failures, peer pressure, misguided priorities, etc., those traits become diluted, diminished or deleted.

The program today is built on seven specific traits we tend to lose as we age, get more educated and/or get more experienced.  Two examples are energy and trust.  Being young is synonymous with having a ton of energy.  Age naturally changes this.  However, great leaders are able to defy nature and maintain an energetic mind, body and spirit. This allows them to not only get more done, but also inspire others to do the same.  A positive, active attitude is highly contagious. 

Our perspective of trust also changes as we grow older, more educated and more experienced.  The major change that negatively impacts leadership effectiveness is thinking you are above the laws - both the small and big ones.  There is an innocence that we lose over time that distorts our thinking about how we do life.  We think that because we are adults or professionals we can bend rules.  A small example is responding to voice mails or emails.  When you get a request from someone, it is not only unprofessional, but also damaging to your trust account to allow a long period of time to pass before you respond.  The distorted thinking is, "my time and attention is more valuable than your need for even a small portion of it."  This is your ego getting in the way of good manners and trust building.

The big challenge of this afternoon's program will be to "grow into who you used to be."  Many times we are so focused on learning more, doing more, getting more education, getting more professional development, etc. when the reality may be that you need to start forgetting some ways you have learned and grow back into the powerful leader you used to be. 

By the way, the other five leadership traits that become diluted, diminished or deleted over time are:  optimism, decisiveness, authenticity, appreciation and growth.


Wise Judgment: How Are You Doing With Decisions?

Decisions rule our lives.  Every action started with a decision.  Some are simple - What should I have for breakfast? - and some are complex - How can we get more members for our organization?  Our ability to make the best choice consistently drives our quality of life and our ability to gain and keep trust from those we are charged with leading. 

So, how are you doing?  Spend some time reflecting on your answers to the following questions.  Your answers will reveal where you are today with the PLI Essential of Wise Judgment...

1.  How do you respond when you make a bad choice?
2.  How do you respond when you see someone you love make a bad choice?  What about a stranger?
3.  What good choice do you make consistently?
4.  Why are you continuing to make a bad choice in a certain area of your life?
5.  Who do you seek advice from?
6.  What is a bad choice in your past that you haven't found peace with yet?
7.  Are you making choices on a daily basis for the sole purpose of lifting up and helping others?
8.  If you could teach others how to make better choices in one area of their lives, what would you teach?
9.  Do you think you are making certain choices that are wrong, but you have chosen to justify, validate or ignore?
10.  Are you patting yourself on the back enough for the good choices you are making today?  Are you doing this for your close friend and family members?
11.  What is one choice you know you need to make today to improve your quality of life?
12.  What values/beliefs serve as a guide for your decisions?