Powerful leaders have gravity, they act in a way that ‘draws people in’ when they share an idea.
Think politicians, CEO’s or Hollywood stars.
I have worked with, spoken to and interviewed founders, CEO’s and directors that use ‘gravity’ to influence others.
Based upon this experience and research I have developed guiding principles to continually improve how you lead.
These principles, if applied effectively, have a profound impact on the way you are received by others, whether your goal is to grow your company or start a political party.
These have been tried and tested within SME’s up to multi-national corporates. They are simple, yet powerful; tried and tested within high pressure industries.
The first principle requires taking ownership of the path of your life. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arrived in the US as an Austrian nobody, who worked his ass off to become somebody. He took it upon himself to create his life and not get hung up on his disadvantages (language barrier, lack of capital).
If life isn’t how you want it to be then ask yourself:
- “What could I do?”
- “What could I change?”
- “What could I create?”
This means not blaming others for an unfair deal, or your current position within your company, and looking for ways to influence outcomes, even in uncertain environments.
Jocko Willink (author of ‘Extreme Ownership’ and former Navy Seal) puts it this way:
“There are no bad teams only bad leaders”
Arianna Huffington (founder of the Huffington Post) puts it this way:
“It matters, it matters very much, what each of us chooses to do. The journey toward self-discovery and self-knowledge is not only life’s highest adventure, but also the only way to transform society from one based on self-centeredness and compulsory compassion to one based on service and mutual responsibility.”
This means facing uncomfortable truths.
For example: you might not be as effective as you think you are, or that others aren’t as invested in your idea as you thought they were, or that you didn’t get that promotion for a reason you’re not seeing.
However, the benefits of adopting this stance are vast.
In his book Straightline Leadership Dusan Djukich puts it this way:
“An inner stance is a position you take. It is where you operate from. It can be empowering or disempowering.”
A powerful inner stance brings energy because you act with certainty.
Others know where they stand with you when you own your shit. They know what you’re about. It also means that your excuses become whispers, rather than shouts.
I have personally seen this concept turn people’s lives around, going from a place of ‘poor me’, to leadership prowess.
I have seen a Director go from a state of leaving her job because she was so exhausted to leading and inspiring others whilst facing incredible adversity, the same adversity that previously would have flawed her. All because she changed her inner stance.
“How can I start?” You might ask.
Start by looking at all the things that you complain about on a daily basis. These pain points are guiding you towards the things that you value most.
Then think about what you could do to make a change.
If you’re frustrated because politicians don’t listen – go and join a group that lobbies government. If your neighbour pisses you off with her stereo blaring until the early hours – go and have a conversation with her. If your co-worker eats in a way that you find off-putting – share it with them. You get the idea.
These things seem insignificant, but those operating at a high level understand that any frustration or complaint robs them of precious energy.
So ask yourself this, “where could I start today? What am I tolerating that I could change right now?”
Taking responsibility for the path of your life means that life is your creation. High performers know this. They see that either they are creating their own reality or someone else is creating it for them.
In my work I help people to see their world differently, and when they see their world differently, their world transforms. They develop a vision of what they would most love to create in their lifetime, rather than just seeing what they don’t want.
Clarity of vision becomes the foundation of purpose in life. Those with a strong purpose (for example anyone that’s ever presented a Ted Talk) have committed themselves so absolutely to a narrow topic that others want to follow them. They speak with authority.
Simon Sinek (motivational speaker and marketing consultant) said:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do what you do.”
The thing is that most people are waiting, they’re waiting until an opportunity presents itself, and then they will create a vision.
Whereas those with ‘gravity’ do it the other way around, they have vision and the plan happens as a result.
Martin Luther King said “I have a dream”. He didn’t say, I have a plan.
He had a dream, a vision that others rallied around. He showed up for life in a powerful way with passion and enthusiasm. Was he a saint? No. Was his plan unflawed? No. But he had so much passion and clarity of purpose that others followed.
What You Are About?
When you understand ‘what you are about’, a vision of what you want appears quite magically. So the question is “why aren’t you seeing it?”
Powerful leaders are overwhelmed by the enormity of what they want to achieve and are so committed to it that no-thing or no-body is going to get in the way. They won’t allow it.
Challenges arise and life is sometimes shit, but with a strong vision and clarity of purpose great things are achieved.
“Where you want to get to is not a place to get to, it’s a place to come from.”
– Rich Litvin (Performance Coach and Mentor)
Those that realise they are the creators of their life and have a vision so powerful are filled with a sense or urgency.
Life is so finite and each day is important.
They create a plan, and the difference with their plan is that they are not the only ones required to fulfil it, they think about how they can influence others – rather than how they can do it all themselves.
The strategy is the vehicle you use to develop the influence required to make the change you wish to see in the world.
Most people want ‘a comfortable life’, well comfort is overrated.
Most ‘comfortable’ people are bored, which is why we get this thing called a ‘midlife crisis’. Suddenly people realise that this thing they have been aspiring towards in life is bullshit, and that this dream they were living into didn’t live up to the hype.
They were living someone else’s dream.
Ultimately, just having a dream and sitting and thinking about it doesn’t mean shit.
“Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.”
– Guy Kawasaki (marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist)
Powerful leaders lay out the pieces of the jigsaw and decide how to get those pieces to support their idea.
They are bold enough to command support, they are clear enough that people know where they stand.
Because they are speaking their vision into the world, living with purpose and taking action, others are drawn in. This is where gravity is created.
Back to Strategy
So a strategy is the actions that you take on a daily basis that are aligned with your vision.
People might not like you, but they’ll respect you, and they will follow you.
Look at what Donald Trump has achieved. Whether you like him or hate him he has influenced millions of people with his clear vision and strategy (which might be bullshit to you and I). But it doesn’t matter, people are drawn in none the less.
He has strong gravity whether we like it or not.
Formulating a powerful strategy requires first that you are responsible for your creation and that you are clear on what you’re about. Then the necessary steps seem obvious, scary to take, but obvious to see.
If something sits in your blind spot in a car then you are likely the crash if you change lanes without looking, yet many in leadership positions forget to check their blind spots. They lose objectivity.
These blind spots become barriers.
Powerful leaders have advisors, mentors, coaches and powerful friends that they turn to, they have teams that support them. They ultimately make the decisions, but they need to see things clearly first.
Being unaware of the habits that are robbing you of your effectiveness is as bad as being ineffective, even if you’re achieving a great deal in life.
Highly Effective People
Highly effective people generally say that they are operating at max 40-50% of their potential.
“Success is 20% mechanics and 80% psychology.”
– Tony Robbins (author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach)
Which means that most constraints are self-imposed.
Powerful people have a self-belief that they are going to do something, long before it comes to fruition.
We celebrate the overnight successes, but forget to celebrate the years of seeming failure to get their.
If we don’t allow ourselves to correct course, if we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes, then we are limiting what we could achieve.
When I work with a client my job is to help them see what they can’t see themselves, because this is where they will find the most expansion in their potential.
The stronger the drive and determination a person has, the bigger the blind spots. Like a race horse that is blinkered, it sees only what is right in front of where it is heading.
Those with boundless certainty can become complacent, because they see themselves in such a positive light.
Only seeing your positive attributes – like everything in life – has its benefits and challenges.
One challenge is not being able to see the truth of yourself, or not being able to see how others see you.
This means that you may think you are more influential than you really are, or not think that you’re frustrating to others when you are.
High performance can’t be achieved alone, the more influential you wish to become, the more reliant you become on others to support you.
Powerful leaders are willing to utilise support networks, receive feedback and look for what they might be missing.
A great coaching question I ask is: “What are you not seeing?” (this is rhetorical as obviously you aren’t seeing it, but when you fix this question in your mind you open your mind to seeing what you might have been missing).
“If you’re not growing then you’re dying”
– Tony Robbins
If you think that you ‘know’ then you are in a dangerous position, unless you want to be a narcissist, in which case, “yes, you know everything”.
There is always so much for us all to learn.
Another trait I see in powerful leaders is that they are constantly learning. They see as much to be gained from those ‘beneath them’ as above or around them.
They are constantly seeking what they cannot see, they understand that growth is life.
Invest Yourself Fully
Truly investing in developing skill requires the humility to admit that you are not perfect.
The stronger your ego the harder this is.
If you look a the tactics Alex Ferguson employed manage egomaniac footballers you’ll see what I mean. He had to hit them hard, both metaphorically and sometimes literally!
Footballers have such strong (and fragile) egos and self-belief that it leads them to delusion. They believe that they are perfect and have no more to learn, which in a game of decreasing margins can spell disaster for their team and their career. Once they are lost to leadership, they underperform and badly behave.
So much to learn
Once you acknowledge that there is so much more to learn, and that no matter how much you know you know so little, then you can focus on developing mastery in your chosen field, finding learning in the most unlikely of places.
Learning that you may have been blind to before.
It happens all the time, go and check out the leaders of failed companies. I’ll bet you that the warning signs were there long before the decline. They thought that ‘they knew’, but then it all came crashing down.
‘Knowing’ leads to delusion.
The reason I’m banging on about this so much is that it is so sad to see talented people getting frustrated because they aren’t getting the recognition they think they deserve. They don’t realise that it isn’t about what they ‘deserve’, it is about what they earn.
To win influence you must influence.
Developing skillsets is more a case of opening your mind to what’s possible, than it is a tick box exercise of stuff to go out and do.
When you truly see your limitations and truly open yourself to learning, you unlock unrealised potential.
Last but not least, ‘stress’ is a bullshit word used to describe tension and fatigue.
“I’m stressed” people say.
It’s bullshit because it doesn’t acknowledge what’s really going on.
The truth is that person is frustrated or overwhelmed, but instead of taking responsiblity and admitting the truth, it gets externalised as ‘stress’.
It’s the ultimate denial of responsiblity, and where there is no responsiblity there is no power. You are at the mercy of external circumstance.
My job as a coach is to smash delusion, ‘stress’ doesn’t exist.
You are in a situation that it causing you to feel a certain way because you want something that you’re not getting. If we can find out what that thing is and formulate a strategy to get it, or at least ask for it, then stress no longer exists.
How does this relate to energy? Well, in my experience when we deal with the cause of frustration and overwhelm, energy is unlocked. Passion is unlocked. Clarity of purpose is unlocked.
Situations that used to be frustrating and overwhelming are reframed as a challenge. Except you now have power, and resilience to overcome the challenge.
When disempowered you will feel tired, which may also show within your blood pressure readings.
We hold so much tension within us, the more we react to external circumstances the more tension we develop. The more tension and frustration, the lower the energy we have, and the higher the blood pressure.
Following these principles will help you realise what brings you energy and what drains you of energy, allowing you to remove those things that are draining you of energy.
‘Removing them’ doesn’t always mean physically removing them, as this isn’t always possible. Sometimes it means adopting a different stance and mindset about the person, place or thing.
By removing energy drains we have energy. Like magic.
In high achievers this can be even more potent, because they were already effective despite the frustration and tension they were carrying. Becoming unburdened only made them more effective.
If you want to get started with this one then you simply write two lists, one list of what brings you energy and one list of what drains you of energy. Then you start removing the energy drains one-by-one.
You Are Your Only Enemy
These principles are not hard and fast rules, but what I do know is that when people have worked on these for a number of months they achieve things that astonish both me and them.
I always tell them that I am happy for them, but not surprised.
You will realise that the challenge in life is not outside of you, but within you.
“You are your only enemy”