Recently I was listening to a man by the name of Mark Conner speak about the dynamics of leadership.
He asked the following two questions:
1. Who is the person that has been the biggest positive influence on your life?
2. Why did you choose that person?
Answers to the first question included parents, best friends, husbands, wives and sports coaches. It was the answer to the second question that got my attention.
What was it about these average people that made them such a powerful influence? The responses included many things such as, “they believed in me when no one else did”, “he was so generous”, “she lived for more than just herself”, “he was so selfless”, “he pushed me out of my comfort zone and never let me settle”.
It struck me.
The impact that these people made had very little to do with their skills and talents, but more to do with how they valued and treated others around them.
I believe that on the inside of each of us, there is a deep desire to make a difference, to be part of a positive change. However, often the only way we know how to go about it is by improving ourselves, and becoming more skilled. These things are extremely important, but at the end of the day it’s what we invest in others that will make the biggest change. Our skills and talents will die with us unless we use them to inspire and improve the lives of others.
The story of King George IV’s speech therapist Lionel Logue, made famous by the movie The King’s Speech, is a good example. In a time when Hitler was taking over Europe, the country’s King had died, his predecessor had abdicated and the heir to the throne suffered a severe stammer and the humiliation that came with it, an ordinary man like Logue had the potential to turn the situation around. Logue did not just help the King overcome his physical limitations, but also his inward limitations. Logue’s investment and belief in King George VI helped restore leadership to England and resist the Nazi threat. The King went from shying away from leadership and the public to regularly broadcasting wartime speeches that bolstered the spirits of a nation.
It’s amazing how the fate of a nation and its leaders largely rested on the shoulders of a common man with no official credentials. If Logue’s influence could make someone great, and that someone could go on to make a nation great, imagine where your investment in others could lead.
Leadership guru, John Maxwell says that “a leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others”. We may not ever become “great” by what we can achieve on our own, but by learning to inspire and work with others, we can together.
Not only will you win the hearts of others when you help them to achieve, but you empower someone to create a change and an impact that is beyond yourself. Now, that’s powerful!
In closing, I would like to encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
Who has been the biggest positive influence in my life?
What can I learn from them to inspire another generation?