Three Shifts in Leadership

Yesterday, I spoke for a group of association leaders on the topic of snow globe leadership, and I want to share with you the core of this message. The most common question I get is why snow globes, and the answer is simple: snow globes are one of the most powerful metaphors about leadership, change, influence and impact.

First, we show that snow globes all have one thing in common – the inside of the globe is some idyllic scene, whether it’s a city scape, a landmark, a farm scene or perhaps a holiday scene. Everything inside is peaceful and looks great. What we also know is that the magic of snow globes only happens when we shake the snow globe. Without shaking, the snow globe is just a nice scene, but the shaking creates the magic.

As leaders, it’s important for us to shake our own snow globes, as well as to encourage and empower your teams and organizations to shake their own snow globes. We know that in order to change things and outcomes, there has to be some form of bold and courageous shaking.

A second element of the metaphor is that we know that shortly after shaking a snow globe everything quickly goes back to the way things were before. While the snowflakes are all in different places, the overall scene has not really changed because everything has settled.

That is precisely what happens after we shake up our own snow globes. If we don’t use the shaking up as the opportunity to shift our thinking, our perspectives and our actions, we quickly settle back to the way things were before. Everything might look good and feel peaceful, but there has not been any real change because everything has settled, and the operative word is settled. We settle as leaders, teams and organizations.

For this reason, it’s vital that we use the shaking up process as the opportunity to make the necessary shifting (starting with ourselves) and that we continue to shake things up in order to assure that we do not fall back and settle.

With this snow globe leadership metaphor in mind, I offer the following three (3) shifts or factors that all have a profound impact on your leadership and influence. First is the Authenticity Factor. Your willingness to be authentic and your level of authenticity are key elements in whether you are trusted, and people follow people that they know and trust (followership). Trust is the foundation of relationships, engagement and influence, so if you want to build your leadership foundation, it’s important that you continually shift and sharpen your Authenticity Factor.

Second is the Presence Factor, which is perhaps the most difficult shift to make given the myriad of ways that our culture works to distract us. Whether it’s your smart phone or other technology, the overwhelming numbers of emails, texts and phones calls, the endless to do lists, or the constant state of busy, busy, busy, being presence is a real challenge. However, when you give the give of presence to another person (especially a team member), you give them the gifts of being not only heard, but seen, feeling valued and feeling cared about. Since leaders are tasked to grow their people, the Presence Factor is vital to building trust, engagement and influence, which all lead to greater and faster impact.

Third and finally we come to the Tolerance Factor. Unlike the Authenticity and Presence Factors which grow and expand your influence, the Tolerance Factor acts to slow down, hold back or even tether your influence. The Tolerance Factor relates to the many ways that you tolerate situations, people, behaviors or actions. No matter how many or how seemingly true your reasons are for the tolerance, there is always a limiting impact of your tolerance.

Specifically, your leadership, relationships and impact are not defined by what you say or by what you do, but by what you tolerate. In fact, your levels of tolerance offer the clearest picture of your leadership (or lack thereof). Yes, adjusting your Tolerance Factor can be challenging and even scary, but that is what leaders to – they take the risk and make the tough decisions to do what is right. What are you tolerating?

There you have it – the Authenticity Factor, the Presence Factor and the Tolerance Factor. Three factors and shift opportunities that you can leverage to enhance and empower your own leadership, influence and impact. And remember, it all and always starts with your willingness to do what leaders do and shake the snow globe. Are you ready to shake things up? Grab your leadership snow globes and let’s all shake, shift and shine together!

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