There is no room for prejudice in an INPowering leader. The second tenet of the INPowered2 LEAD philosophy is, “Everything is personal, and everyone matters . . . Every human is equally valuable without exception.”
You would be offended if someone pre-judged you negatively without knowing you as an individual. Yet, we do it frequently. Prejudice can seep through even when we try to remain untainted by it. It’s almost reflexive–a kneejerk response that lingers unless we recognize it, isolate it, and purge it.
Prejudice comes from sloppy thinking
More often than not, our prejudice comes to us second hand. We adopt the opinions and attitudes of the group we run with. We absorb that culture and norms for our own without testing the facts of what others are telling us we should believe.
The prejudice is confirmed when our own experience or observation supports it. What we don’t realize is we experienced what we subconsciously expected to experience, so our expectations are affirmed. It’s a vicious cycle of compounded misperceptions. Our misperception is our reality.
I can understand forming an opinion of someone after taking the time to get to know them. But doing so without first-hand individual information, or on hearsay, is foolish.
Beware those who peddle prejudice
Flagrant prejudice borders on a character flaw. Bigotry is its natural evolution. It is the making of the hardhearted and stiff-necked. It leads to deeper suspicions and discord that are largely unfounded in reality. The natural consequence is mass paranoia toward classes of people who are, for the most part, no different at their core than you or I.
Humorist, Will Rogers is famous for saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Why do you suppose that was? Do you think, perhaps, he looked for the likeable qualities in each individual instead of dwelling on their flaws or quirks?
What if we did likewise?
The INPowered cut through the prejudice
The INPowered leader helps us find comfort in a world that is less prejudiced and more understanding.
The INPowered leader holds individuals accountable for individual acts instead of labeling classes of people for individual acts.
The INPowered leader seeks out the facts behind events to accurately determine the true nature of those events and the threats or opportunities they pose.
The INPowered leader is honest about his or her own prejudiced tendencies and strives to become more understanding and tolerant as they learn how to govern their own biases.
The more you strive to work through your own prejudices,
the more you will be
Love is not usually associated with strong leaders. We go for tough guys, and sometimes women, who cut a swath with their swagger and bravado. They have an edge that keeps others at arms length. When they make things happen, we tolerate their brashness.
But there’s something to be said for the strength and power of love when leaders are INPowered by it and act on it. Love is an X-factor, an intangible force.
Love never breaks its surefooted stride. Swagger can trip under pressure.
Love is other oriented. Bravado is self-centered.
Love is willing to sacrifice self. The brash will throw others under bus before they themselves take a hit.
Love walks with and embraces those who have been elbowed into the shadows. Swagger relishes standing alone in the spotlight.
Love quietly shows itself in compassion and inclusiveness. Bravado talks a good game, but is short on follow through.
Love absorbs derision and insults. Brashness doles them out without apology.
In the end, love makes leaders the real tough guys and women. Love never fails.
Lead from love,
and you will be
The language of leadership gives us insight into the leader’s heart and soul. It’s not only what a leader says, but the way they say it, that gives us that insight.
Effective, resonant leaders express a vision and build confidence in us that we can be successful. After all, we are looking for leaders who help us go places we cannot or will not go by ourselves. They speak in ways that encourage us, enliven us, enlighten us and enlarge our expectations of what’s possible.
INPowering leaders get inside our heads and hearts to inspire us to make things better for ourselves and others. I have taken the liberty to restyle the terms I use to depict how such leaders affect us on the inside. They . . .
- INCourage us,
- INLiven us,
- INLighten us, and
- INLarge us.
Their language INCourages the spirit
An INPowering leader’s language is absent of coercive scare tactics. INCouragement is affirmation in the face of trials and uncertainty. Resonant leaders spur us on in the face of disappointment and self-doubt by reminding us of our capabilities.
They embolden and strengthen us by their positive, can-do perspectives. INPowering leaders do not see the disheartened as weak and pitiful. They see us as fully capable individuals who just need to be reminded and reassured of our hopes and dreams.
As they INCourage the spirit, INPowering leaders show understanding, patience, compassion and forgiveness.
Their language INLivens the heart
INPowering leaders invigorate us. Their enthusiasm breeds in us an infectious energy. And when we unleash it we can change the course of history.
They make us feel alive and relevant. They speak to us of joy and remind us of our innate value as a human.
Their stories entertain as well as teach. They find the humor in the face of distressing circumstances and remind us, even though times are serious, not to take ourselves too seriously.
Their subtle flair and understated truisms catch us by surprise, amuse us, and redirect our minds and spirits toward endeavors greater than ourselves. They lift us–frowns to smiles, stumbling to running, melancholy to majestic.
Their language INLightens the mind
INPowering leaders are truth-seekers and truth-tellers. They are wide-eyed and thirst for knowledge. Then, they share their knowledge and understanding to provoke in us the same brand of curiosity and a quest for insight that they have.
INPowering leaders use knowledge honestly for the greater common good. They seek clarity and scrutinize information for its fidelity and context. They believe that information is the life blood of relationships and communities, and they are not afraid for us to know what they know.
To a leader, a higher standard of living is more than economics–more than just having more. It’s being more and being INLightened to know the difference.
INPowering leaders understand applied knowledge begets wisdom. And when we are wise, we are more fully capable human beings intellectually, emotionally and spiritually–living more abundantly.
Their language INLarges our expectations of living
The language of leadership challenges us to envision a future of possibilities for ourselves and others in all our relationships. It is a value-seeking and value-creating language.
INPowering leaders INLarge our expectations by painting a word picture of a future we desire, then placing us squarely in it. They draw our attention to the horizon, then challenge us to move beyond it.
They show us how we can broaden our network of relationships. They help us connect with people whom we might have considered unreachable.
INPowering leaders teach us to live as if there were no walls to box us in. They remind us that we shape our own world instead of being shaped by someone else’s idea of who we are supposed to be.
INPowering leaders make us feel purposeful, relevant, powerful, and inherently valuable as a person.
Their language reveals their nature
Listen to those who desire to lead us. Does their language speak to your higher nature? Do they speak the language of leadership?
Listen intently, and you will hear
whether they are
Football, as a sport, is an excellent analogy for our own success planning. It applies to our personal life and to how our businesses operate.
Super Bowl 50 could be the most watched U.S. television program in history. The golden anniversary game pits a shoo-in Hall of Fame veteran, Peyton Manning, probably playing his final NFL game, and upstart Cam Newton playing his first Super Bowl game. Both these talented players epitomize success.
There is a natural tug between immediate gratification and long-range goals, and football demonstrates how the two can work together. Furthermore, I think the way American football is structured and played is also a reason why it is more popular in the U.S. than soccer–the other football.
American football parallels our left-brained business culture’s penchant for strategic planning and short-range results. In personal life, as well as in our business culture, we are taught to plan our work and work our plan, and to not just wing it.
Consider the following elements of a strategic plan in relation to how football is organized and played.
Vision and goals.
Win a championship (Super Bowl, national championship, conference championship, etc.)
Mission and goals.
Win this week’s game.
Strategic objectives and goals.
Develop and follow a game plan against the current opponent.
Operational tactics and goals.
Execute the game plan and track progress using performance metrics (yards gained running and passing, first downs, etc.)
What counts in the final analysis– the difference between activity and results.
Positive yards gained by running and passing the ball and making first downs is an indicator of success, but not success itself.
Scoring more points than your opponent during the game, which is played within a limited time frame, is what ultimately counts.
Recruit the best possible talent and develop that talent.
Coaches look for two things, raw talent and attitude. Natural ability helps, but the secret to developing a great team is to get players to work as a cohesive unit. Coaches expect players to practice hard and to continually develop their ability on their personal time.
This is why I believe we Americans prefer our version of football to soccer. We like to measure things and know just where we stand at any point.
The field is a grid with 100 hash marks measuring the 100 yards between goal lines. We can see exactly where we are and how far we need to go for the next reward–a new set of downs to control the ball–and how far we must go to score points. We also can see the game clock–how much time is left in the game–and a play clock–how much time we have left to put the ball in play.
The game also has a set of rules to govern fair play and officials to police the game and to keep it moving.
Coaches oversee how the game progresses. They watch from a vantage point, send in plays, and determine which players should participate depending on the game situation. Players do as told, unless there is an immediate crisis (busted play, fumble, or interception), in which case they must improvise.
That being said, enjoy the game. But remember, in all the passion, emotion, and ebb and flow of the game, there is an underlying structure that makes it all work.
Taking the lead in your life also involves having a vision, a strategy, intermediate mission objectives, and daily operational tactics.
Knowing what results count in the end
will help you win
and be more