Today it is my pleasure to welcome guest blogger Scott Duncan to The Leader’s Digest. Scott is the Co-Founder and Director of Aspire Executive Search – a boutique, New Zealand-owned executive search consultancy.
Now this is an interesting display of leadership. If your life doesn’t allow you time to view the full three minutes, feel free to skip through it at 30 second intervals. I think you will still get the point.
Look at what can happen in under three minutes! I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but smile when I watch this.
There’s something about his carefree abandon, his willingness to try (and fail) and the way he embraces those who literally run to join him.
Putting aside my initial reactions, it has struck me just how many leadership traits this guy, let’s call him ‘Sasquatch Dan’, demonstrates – both consciously and unconsciously:
Courage – Sasquatch Dan is not afraid to put himself out there. Yes, it did look like a rather encouraging and supportive environment, but there was still an element of reputational risk involved. Sasquatch Dan took the initiative and very effectively led by example.
Confidence and conviction – I’m certainly not one to critique anyone’s dance style, but you have to admire Sasquatch Dan’s confidence. To quote a cliché, he was almost “dancing like no one was watching”. Through his approach he was able to inspire those around him to join in.
Openness and acceptance – Sasquatch Dan was not seeking to control anyone. He was open, accepting and inviting of all participants – encouraging and valuing the unique individual contributions of every individual.
He presented a vision, but let the teamwork form the reality.
Enthusiasm and passion – if you agree enthusiasm is infectious, Sasquatch Dan actually went viral (in real life). It was his energy and enthusiasm which motivated the crowd to form. More than anything though, it was his high level of authenticity.
Authenticity is hard to fake.
It innately resonates with people, engendering trust, participation and collaboration.
If a group of people dancing in a paddock is not quite cerebral enough for you, you may wish to consider this Harvard Business Review article on Authentic Leadership.
This study suggests there is no one clear profile of the ideal leader. It states leadership emerges, both consciously and subconsciously, from our unique experiences and life stories.
Authenticity, developed through an appreciation and understanding of one’s personal values, is the spark which ignites our leadership potential.
The quote below talks to the real risk of adopting a leadership style which is not sincere and true. Amgen CEO and President Kevin Sharer, who gained priceless experience working as Jack Welch’s assistant in the 1980s, saw the downside of GE’s cult of personality in those days.
“Everyone wanted to be like Jack,” he explains. “Leadership has many voices. You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else.”
Ultimately, I think it is impossible to be truly authentic until we genuinely understand and embrace our own personal values and drivers.
Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in an exercise with noted Corporate Anthropologist Michael Henderson (see his TEDx Talk here), which highlighted and crystallised my personal value set.
Whilst we may think these things would be fairly obvious, there were some real surprises at the end of the exercise. It became more of an awakening of the subconscious; the elevation of what I felt to what I now know and orientate my decisions towards.
Through this process of examination, I am now consciously more aligned to my values and am leading a more consistent and authentic life.
Some questions you may wish to ponder:
1. What values are most important to you?
2. Is your adherence/lack of adherence to these values impacting your effectiveness as a leader?
3. If you started dancing in a field, would your team run to join you?
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.