There is, has been and will continue to be so much written on the subject of leadership it seems redundant to this author to write about the subject. It is much easier at times to quote our great leadership guru’s like John Maxwell or Jim Rohn or Steven Covey. And in doing so, you can’t go wrong. They have all had outstanding careers, written many books and influenced many including myself. In fact, this article, although not consciously, may be influenced by them since, as a student of leadership and a teacher of leaders, I have read and shared much of their wisdom.
I believe one of my skills is to look at the plethora of information and distill it into its least common denominators which can be easily absorbed by those who have no desire to make the time and read all that information. For those of you familiar with the Kolbe Type A Index, I am a 5 in the Fact Finder column which confirms my assertion.
I like to deliver things in threes. Although this may oversimplify some concepts, I think it is essential to putting the concepts into action. Years ago we used to say that, “knowledge is power.” Now with the advent of the internet and search engines like Google, information and knowledge is at the fingertips of anyone willing to search for it, study it and learn it. So the power then becomes not the knowledge itself but that knowledge in action or the application of the knowledge.
As leaders we are often the ones making the decision or providing direction, in the moment. It is here that the ability to internally reference your knowledge base on how to proceed is key. In these moments, it is easier to access a simple formula than to attempt to recall all the various techniques of leadership that may confidently move your people toward the desired goal, collectively.
The formula to being a leader is not hard, it’s not complicated and it is not something you are born with. It comes down to being three things: an Inspirator, a Motivator and an Activator. Of course, if you agree and know how to be those then you can stop reading. However, you’ve made it this far and the best is yet to come, so I suggest you read on and get a better understanding on the “how to “ in the next sections of this article.How to be a Inspirator
I love the word Inspirator. Obviously, it means “one who inspires.” And to be a person that inspires others you need to be “in-spire-d” yourself. You see inspire can be broken down to “in spirit.” Spirit is bigger than all of us, so to be inspired means to be bigger than your self or your ego. What is the bigger picture, the overriding theme, the possibilities to live into and create? Spirit is also a life force, exemplified in many cultures and traditions with the breath. The medical definition of inspiration is: a device (as an injector or respirator) by which something (as gas or vapor) is drawn in. So, in order to be an inspiration, you have to be able to breath life into a person, a group, a team, an organization or an idea which in turn make them bigger than its self.
The best way I have found to be able to do this is to consciously develop, be aware and lead from a context. I define context as a parameter of truth within which we think, feel sense and take action. Our thinking, feelings and our actions are based solely on what we say is true. Within this context, there are outcomes that are possible and outcomes that are impossible. Our context basically defines and clarifies our way of being. The only question would be if it is of your choice and expansive or determined by the situation and limiting. If you would like some help creating a context you can download this document I wrote What is a C.P.R. and How Do I Create One?.
The best way to be an inspiration and breath life into someone causing them to be inspired is to develop and live a context that is authentic and bigger than yourself.
How to be a Motivator
It is easy to get motivation and inspiration confused because they are closely connected. For me, the distinction is that inspiration comes from outside yourself – the spirit, and motivation comes from within your self. We can look at the word and break it down to “motive” which is defined as: something that causes a person to act a certain way, do a certain thing, etc; incentive. Motive applies mainly to an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action.
The key to being a Motivator is connection. Your ability to cause someone to move to action resides in your ability to connect with them in a deep and meaningful way. My definition of motivate is to be able to move someone from the inside. To do this you need to connect with their WHY. We are all moved by our WHYs. These are our internal beliefs and values that control the decision making process. When you can effectively and authentically connect your WHY with the WHYs of others you can be a motivator. Another way to look at the WHY is the cause or the purpose but not the results. Although we think (key word) we are motivated by goals or results we are not. It is, in fact, the meaning or feeling behind, before or after the result that drive our behavior or motivate us. “This is not my opinion,” Simon sink says in Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Action, “it is based in biology not psychology.”
In order to be able to authentically connect with someone’s WHY you must first know yours. This requires quiet introspection and reflection in order to quiet the monkey mind and your thoughts. We use our thinking to rationalize our decisions after we have made our choice. Knowing your WHY and being able to touch someone else’s in order to cause them to move to action requires you to “get to the heart of the matter.” Awakening that in another makes you a motivator.
Now inspiration and motivation are important but there is one final piece to add. How many times have you have you been inspired to be better at something only to recede back to the normal routine a few days later? How often have you felt motivated do something causing you to purchase some essential equipment only to have that equipment stay in the box or get used sparingly or not at all? It is with this in mind that we look at the next essential piece.
How to be an Activator
When we are looking at leaders and leadership or to be a leader, a key indicator of success will always be the results. The ability to take something or someone from where they are to where you inspired them to go is the truest measure of a leader. Did you get where you said you would go? The essence of this is change.
Here is where I love the definition of activator in medicine: an agent that renders another (substance) active or accelerates a process. That in and of itself is causing change. From still to moving, from disbelief to belief, from doubt to committed action these all accelerate the process. Tony Robbins talks extensively about “changing your state” in order to unleash the power within. He then teach his students how to activate themselves to change their state by “making your move.” In doing so, he completes the cycle of Inspirator, Motivator and Activator by teaching millions how to activate themselves on demand. As leaders in organizations and companies, communities and families the Activator must be present to accelerate the process. You have to notice when the breath of inspiration is waning. You have to notice when the incentive to quit, stop or slow down is becoming greater than the motivation to push past limitations. Sometimes the easiest way to move past these bumps in the road is to continue to be in action and continue to move down the road.
Of course, there are many different ways to be an Activator, as well as a Motivator and an Inspirator. Your journey to becoming a great leader is finding the ways that are authentically yours, then doing your best to rise above your ego and enter a place of service. This is where all great leaders have lived and will continue to live. The best of them still live there even after they are dead.
Now although many people are seen and experienced as leaders because they can be very inspirational and others because they are great at motivating others they may not be complete. Then there are the people that can come in and spur a group into action and get stuff done. We look at and consider these people as leaders, righfully so. However, what I am referring to in this article ai being a great and complete leader. To do this you have to develop the skill-set and mental bandwidth to be all three.
In conclusion, I leave you with a short acronym, of sorts, that hopefully will help you remember the tenants in this article – “Ima triple C.” This represents the three characters of Inspirator, Motivator and Activator and what they each need to bring to the table Context, Connection and Change. So when being a leader remember “Ima triple C.”