Written by: Lee Ellis
The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves. – J. Carla Nortcutt
Most great stories have a hero struggling with challenges and a mentor, someone who speaks into their life to help them find their way.
You may recall Mentor from The Odyssey, the original “mentor” who spoke into the life of Telemachus, inspiring him to live up to his potential and preserve the home front until his father Odysseus’ return. In more recent times we’ve seen Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, John Keating and his students in Dead Poets Society, and Gandalf and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. In real life there was Moses who served that role for Joshua, and Socrates mentored Plato, who then mentored Aristotle. More recently, Warren Buffet has mentored several famous business leaders. In the POW camps Capt. Ken Fisher was that person for me.
The bottom line is that mentors speak into the lives of others to inspire and challenge them to overcome their doubts and achieve their potential. If you’re a leader or want to be a leader, you must embrace the idea of connecting and investing in the lives of others.
Helping Others Become More Secure
Every person is constantly sliding back and forth as shown on the two continua below, but there are practical ways you can help others move toward a more Secure Self. And this is crucial to being an honorable and effective leader.
Healthy leaders recognize that when their team members feel good about themselves, they naturally perform better–meaning they feel comfortable with themselves. They have that healthy degree of inner-security that we have been talking about.
With this insight, secure leaders can be intentional about affirming others. It’s a practical way of moving a person toward being more confident and secure. Those types of connections have more power than you can ever imagine.
An Example of Leading the Way
Recently while conducting a leadership training, I asked the participants to reflect on a person who had spoken power into their life (my way of asking about a key mentor) and altered their life and career. Several people shared their story, and they were so moving! What they described was how one person’s words had moved them toward a more secure and confident self—how one person’s belief in them had completely launched them on a path to a rewarding, purpose-filled future.
Why would any leader not want to be a launcher or booster to lift others up? Can you imagine the kind of organization that comes when its leader is intentionally providing this kind of heart-connection with people?
4 Steps to Connect with the Heart
In my book, Engage With Honor, I explain the Courageous accountability Model™ with one of the steps called “Connect with the Heart”. This affirmation and encouragement is much more than logic or reasoning of the head—it’s a heart connection.
Whether it’s part of your natural leadership behavior or not, you need to be intentional in doing it. Here are four steps that will help you get there –
1. Train your mindset so that it will support your heart in this effort.
- Read Chapter Seven of Engage with Honor.
- Watch this Leading with Honor Coaching video on connecting with heart (link to TBD )
- Watch Dr. Richard Boyatzis’ online videos on resonant leadership (https://www.coursera.org/lecture/emotional-intelligence-leadership/watch-what-is-great-leadership-mX5X3). His many years of research and teaching in emotional intelligence and resonant leadership lay out the evidence that scientifically proves the power of compassionately caring and connecting with others in this way.
2. Develop your strategy and tactics to be more intentional in encouraging and affirming others.
- Accept that you will have to be vulnerable and genuinely open yourself to make this connection.
- Begin to observe others and see them as valuable human beings that are struggling to gain a foothold with their own security and confidence.
- Look for ways to affirm them, remembering it must be true and genuine. You may even want to write a short one or two sentence script if it seems difficult to do.
3. Look for a good opportunity and deliver your message. At first this may be a bit mechanical for those who are highly results-oriented, but it will get more comfortable. Soon it will start to come more naturally.
4. Make it a habit and use tools if needed. There was a story about a senior vice-president at Bellsouth (now part of ATT) who put ten dimes in her pocket each morning. Every time she affirmed someone, she moved a dime to the other pocket. Her goal was to move all ten dimes over before the end of the day. How is that for being intentional? It may sound hokey, but it worked. She was an amazing leader who got great results, and people did not want to let her down.
Remember—the goal is to become more intentional in connecting with the hearts of your team (and others too). So, do you see the power you have? Are you willing to engage with your people to help them feel more secure and confident? Expect a real return on your investment. Give it a try and then let us and others know how it’s working for you.