I recently spent one morning with a CEO, a pastor, a scientist, an entrepreneur, and a president. If you follow my blog, you know that I attended the annual Global Leadership Summit and enjoyed a terrific lineup of thought leaders. While they come from different backgrounds and life experiences, each shared a similar passion for helping people transform their lives.
The Summit was a refreshing break in my work routine, and if you’re like me, you enjoy a change of scenery from time to time. Some days it’s enough to stand up from your desk and find a new seat to change your perspective, while other days require much more to inspire a different mindset. This group of eclectic speakers brought the goods. Each one had something meaningful to contribute, and I’d love to share my takeaways with you. Pull up a chair and prepare to push reset.
1. Show your strength through humility
What excites Global Leadership Network’s CEO Tom DeVries most about his job is that every day, he hears a new story of transformation that was prompted by insights shared at the Summit. Growth fundamentally comes from a willingness to learn from others, and that acceptance is a powerful shift toward humility. It’s been said that being humble means that we’re opposed to autonomy. Sit with that for a moment. If you believe achievement is only enhanced by collective efforts, humility becomes the engine behind stronger outcomes. Humility can be your superpower if you’re willing to embrace it. For DeVries, the Summit is at the intersection of this mindset.
2. Find balance in two extremities
Life Church pastor and author Craig Groeschel started out like most aspiring leaders—in a garage. His earliest congregation met in a borrowed two-car garage with furniture that had seen better days and AV equipment that was faulty at best. What wasn’t borrowed was Groeschel’s unique ability to inspire people. As his followers grew, so did his satellite locations. When Groeschel visited each location, he realized that every team of church leaders had its own “it” factor. The best leaders were people who created a healthy balance between two extremes. In other words, the best spiritual leaders were confident yet humble, driven yet healthy, and focused yet flexible. Groeschel spoke of his own journey and desire to find balance. It wasn’t until he sought help that he found that elusive stability. “It’s not weakness to seek help,” Groeschel said. “It’s wisdom.”
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3. Avoid small-talk traps for greater connections
Author Vanessa Van Edwards focuses on the science of people because connecting with others is our life’s greatest asset—not only for our mental well-being and longevity but also for our own definition of success. Van Edwards exposes a practice we’re all guilty of—small talk, or what she calls level-one conversations. We get nowhere fast and bypass opportunities to genuinely connect if we keep our conversations skimming along the surface, never pausing to commune, reflect, or show empathy. Van Edwards says we need to avoid small-talk traps by going deeper in our conversations if we truly want to make a difference in our lives. She challenged the audience to ask questions like “What has been the highlight of your day?” or “Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?” or “What is your story?”
4. Keep your startup spark alive with purpose
Coffee Republic founder and author Sahar Hashemi had a simple idea that changed her life. She had no plans to start a business until she fell in love with her first latte while on a trip in New York. When she returned to the United Kingdom, her brother persuaded her to start the country’s first coffee bar chain. Together they embarked on a startup journey and built more than one hundred coffee bars. Throughout their “breakthroughs and breakdowns,” Hashemi realized that the entrepreneurial culture isn’t something you move on from; it’s something you should work hard to maintain. Equally important, entrepreneurial ideas aren’t reserved for the “special” people; anyone can do it. Hashemi says if you want to keep the startup spark alive, you just need to connect the head with the heart in business.
5. Practice intentional kindness
SHRM president & CEO Johnny Taylor’s message was simple: we have an empathy problem. For such a simple message, today’s leaders struggle with the depth and breadth of this issue despite the fact that most agree empathy is the one interaction skill that outshines all others. The complexities of creating an empathic culture at work, let alone offering a sensitive ear to someone in life, have only increased in recent years due to the pandemic and the boiling over of racial and political issues. In spite of today’s climate or especially because of it, Taylor challenges us to be kind to one another, to take the word “random” out of the phrase “random acts of kindness.” Instead, look for ways to offer your kindness less randomly, even ordinarily. If you need inspiration for gestures of kindness, consider what you are grateful for and start by expressing gratitude toward someone.
If you’re looking for a way to change things up and keep your leadership approach fresh, try on a new perspective. I’m confident you’ll enjoy the view. For now, consider acting on some of the takeaways I’ve shared today. If you liked the leadership lessons here, watch for my next installment in this series, when I’ll explore the highlights of my afternoon with the Global Leadership Network Summit.