How can I be a better leader? Part 2 – Enthusiasm
One of the defining qualities of great leadership is the enthusiastic and passionate approach leaders adopt, almost automatically, towards their business. Indeed, enthusiasm differentiates leaders from mere managers. The former going about their day to day tasks efficiently and often systematically, the latter adopting a more pragmatic, visionary approach to their work, as if they actually care, not just about the business they are in, but more strikingly, about the people they work with.
Enthusiasm is not just a state of mind; it is behaviour, attitude and action triangulated into one consistent outward display of how leaders interact with the people they come into contact with. We recognise the enthusiastic from the dull, and ironically the former know, feel and thrive on their own enthusiasm (like an inner energy source) whereas the latter are mostly oblivious to their dullness. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean when you reflect on you own experiences.
In this article, I will attempt to address three burning questions, in an effort to provide you with additional leadership skills and become a more authentic leader: What is enthusiasm? How do I become more enthusiastic without faking it? How can I harness enthusiasm to become a better leader?
In short, enthusiasm is the output of a series of inner conscious and sub-conscious building blocks. Our mental DNA, manifesting itself into our physical (body language); verbal (communication) and spiritual persona (charisma). The Oxford English Dictionary defines enthusiasm as “passionate eagerness in any pursuit.” Real enthusiasm comes from the inside out. It is an internal condition of drive, energy, determination, passion and commitment.
These building blocks will often include:
* positive outlook
* being highly competitive
* strategic awareness and ability to see the bigger picture
* an awareness of self and others feelings
* an engaging and inspirational communicator
* a pro-active, active listener.
* and a nice dose of a good sense of humor
The list is not entirely exhaustive, but whats also important to highlight is what enthusiasm is NOT:
It is not:
* Something that you are only borne with and cant be learned.
* Short lived (unless it was false in the first place). Although I accept there are times when even the most enthusiastic of leaders can feel abit low. The difference is they pick themselves up, dust off and start all over again, learning as they go.
* a secret to success in its own right
Three ways to become more enthusiastic:
1. Be more self aware (SWOT and Johari)
2. Train your mind and put in place the building blocks listed above
3. Seek feedback and be prepared to adapt and embark on a journey of continuous improvement
In many cases, enthusiasm is the difference between success and failure. Do you fear showing additional enthusiasm would make you look ridiculous? Do NOT fear it. Enthusiasm is a sign of leadership; the sign that you are able to commit yourself fully to you actions. People are drawn to genuine enthusiasm. It can act like a magnet, winning peoples hearts and minds. Why not study the technique of one of the greatest enthusiasts the world has ever known? Who is he or she? You may meet him tomorrow coming down the street. When you get within 10 feet of him, he wont be able to disguise his enthusiasm. He will begin to wag his tail. If you stop and pat him he will almost jump out of his skin to show you how much he likes you. And you know behind this show of affection, there are no ulterior motives. He doesn’t want to sell you something or ask you for money! Its the reason why dogs are called ‘mans best friend’.
Another outward display of enthusiasm can best be described in the following poem recorded in the the book by Dale Carnegie How To Win Friends And Influence People
It costs nothing, but creates much.
It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business, and is the countersignature of friends.
It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Natures best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no earthly good to anybody until it is given away.
And if in the last minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?
For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!
Enthusiasm is not just an inner passion, it is a genuine behaviour. Additionally, enthusiasm is something that manifests itself in the way that you interact and deal with people. The late Steve Jobs was hugely enthusiastic. He possessed and passion and determination for perfection and an enormous dream to ‘make a dent in the universe’. Although this often manifested itself in an uncompromising, narcissistic behaviour which made him extremely difficult to work for, those who worked for him, testify now that he had an energy and enthusiasm and capability to stretch people beyond what they even thought possible in themselves and those workers would not swap a single day of working for someone like Steve Jobs. I prefer the story of Charles Schwab, one of the highest paid, most successful businessmen in American history who once said of the secret to his success:
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise, but loathe to find fault. If I like anything, i am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”
A fairly recently phenomenon that has people talking and is changing the way people are thinking has come about as a result of the book by Rhonda Byrne entitled The Secret. It describes in a philosophical way the work being undertaken in the neurological scientific field of quantum physics. In short, within creation, there exists a law of attraction and our individual thoughts are so powerful that they create our experiences and the very world in which we live. “What we think about we bring about”. The book provides a fascinating account of the ‘secrets of success’ of many of the world’s most successful people. So if you are looking to become and enthusiastic, authentic and successful leader, now is a great time to begin. Start thinking predominantly good thoughts, start believing in yourself and telling yourself how good you are, start to live your life more enthusiastically, start seeing the good in others – praise more and criticise less.
To begin with you may need to make a conscious effort to become more enthusiastic. It may feel like acting to you, but stick with it. After just a few days and then a few weeks you can completely transform your inner thoughts and outward behaviour and action. Your attitude determines you action. If you seem less than enthusiastic, you may unwittingly transmit a lack of interest and commitment and are unlikely to be seen as a ‘natural leader’. Enthusiasm generates followers.
Here’s a great way to be able to start to live life more enthusiastically. Author and LA talk-show host Dennis Prager says happiness is a serious problem. He suggests that when we rise in the morning, we should notice the many blessings present each do that either go unnoticed or we take for granted. For example you have your health, you hear laughter in the house, you hear birds singing outside. You should know that a full and happy life comes more quickly to those who find themselves swimming a sea of gratitude. So this week, keep a gratitude journal. List all the really wonderful things you love most about your life. You will be amazed how long the list gets.
As you read this article and the ones following in the series to help you become an enthusiastic and accomplished leader, try to stand apart from yourself. Try to see yourself in the corner of the room, in your minds eye, reading. Can you look at yourself almost as though you were someone else?
Now try something else. Think about the mood you are now in. Can you identify it? What are you feeling? How would you describe your present mental state?
Now think for a minute about how your mind is working. Is it quick, positive and alert? Your ability to do this is uniquely human. Animals don’t possess this ability. We call it ‘self awareness’. This is the reason why man has dominion over all things in the world and why he can make significant advances from generation to generation. It is also how come there is such huge differentiation in human endeavour, with the most successful people often being the most self-aware.
This is why we can evaluate and learn from others experiences as well as our own. This is also why we can make and formulate habits. I will finish this week with two great quotes to inspire you to live your life more enthusiastically.
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to evaluate his life by conscious endeavour.” Henry Thoreau
“Smile, and the whole world will smile with you”.
Everywhere we look we are all seeing more and more examples of poor leadership, in international bodies, governments, corporations, small business and in our direct boss. Recent surveys show 74% of people would sack their boss if they could, but in the main, people are afraid to speak up, for fear of being shown the door themselves. There is however, a revolution going on in many organisations. The smart are investing (often secretly) in their own self development. The leaders of tomorrow will suddenly come out of the woodwork, self taught, enthusiastic and able to relate to the majority of the populous. These enthusiasts will bring a breath of fresh air to many ailing institutions. One of these enthusiasts is most probably you.
Next week….we will take a look at the incredible benefits of setting goals. A leadership trait of winners…
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