While on the surface, you would think the goal of any songwriter is to write a song that dominates the airwaves, flies up the charts, sells millions of records and wins a coveted Grammy Award. In reality, any successful songwriter is only trying to do one thing…connect heads and hearts. By doing so, we encourage the listener to become emotionally involved and internalize the song in a way that is unique to them. It even enables listeners to better remember the lyrics and melody by tapping into their limbic brain. If a song can inspire that level of connection, the awards and end results will take care of themselves.
So what does this have to do leadership?
A great leader shouldn’t be solely focused on driving record profits or earning that year-end bonus. A great leader must also connect heads and hearts. More specifically, an inspired leader is constantly trying to align organizational values with employee feelings. When we are successful in aligning values and feelings, our teams become more agile and adept at handling any change they may face. Your business is changing on a daily basis. In fact, that change brings with it an enormous amount of uncertainty.
Unfortunately, our brains are wired to view uncertainty as a threat, so aligning values and feelings and connecting heads and hearts is no simple task.
Leadership guru and author, Simon Sinek said, “To affect change inside an organization we must remember why people resist change. People don’t fear change, people like comfort. The status quo is more comfortable than the unknown.”
With all due respect, Simon is partially correct but doesn’t tell the whole story. People do like things to be comfortable, however, people in fact do fear change. To be more specific, people fear the uncertainty that change always travels with. Surprisingly, fear is not the biggest obstacle to navigating change.
In a recent Rock ‘N’ Roll With It survey we conducted about change, we found that while nearly 90% of respondents said they desired meaningful change in their lives, the number one obstacle stopping people from achieving that change was discipline (30%).
How does this impact great leadership? It means that we need to help those we lead stay disciplined while working towards personal and organizational goals. We do that by first understanding that discipline can be broken into two parts:
Being disciplined begins with commitment. Gathering a strong commitment from those we lead will have the greatest impact on achieving the positive results we are responsible for producing. So how do we inspire a level of commitment that will move the needle within our organizations?
In order for anyone to consistently stay committed to something, they must define their core values. Core values are developed over a lifetime and are what guide our decision-making process. Unfortunately, most people have never taken the time to discern what their four or five core values actually are. This can lead to decisions driven heavily on “feelings” and that is a recipe for unstable, volatile, and potentially dangerous results.
Have you ever been faced with a decision that was incredibly difficult and kept you up at night worrying? We all have been in that position at one point in our lives. But those of us who have taken the time to define what truly matters to us can reach a decision much faster knowing that the decision made was in alignment with our core values. No matter what the outcome.
A great leader helps those around them define their core values to enable more efficient and burden-free decision-making. Bringing these core values into the light actually makes it easier to stay committed. It allows us to connect on a much deeper level to the work at hand so when an obstacle arises, we can find the proper motivation to push through and stay focused on achieving our goals.
The second part of discipline is forgiveness. It begins with forgiving ourselves for past failures and lack of commitment. Staying 100% committed to anything is incredibly difficult at best and damn near impossible at worst. As humans, we love to punish ourselves for not being committed enough to reach our goals and aspirations. By not forgiving ourselves, we bring that baggage to the start of every new project and before you know it, there is no room left to make mistakes.
Performing with the sole expectation of perfection is a soul-crushing, anxiety-ridden, creativity-killing endeavor — one that can lead to failure, which will require more forgiveness and the cycle starts again.
A great leader helps their people accept forgiveness and encourages the high level of commitment needed to positively affect change. Some days that level is greater than others. Making people aware that you understand that commitment level provides them with the freedom to make mistakes and take risks.
It’s not just the individuals that need help forgiving themselves, but an effective leader can also help them forgive the organization for falling short of expectations and breaking past promises. Managing veteran employees who have been around long enough to witness disappointments can have a profound effect on employee morale. Helping them establish their core values and keeping them focused on the current work at hand will make it easier to align values and feelings.
At the end of the day, being a great leader means making things personal and taking an interest in helping those you lead to become better individuals. When you help someone define their core values, you are providing them with shelter to weather life’s storms that go far beyond “work.” By encouraging and guiding their commitment, you allow them to achieve things they once thought impossible.
As a leader, you have a choice as to the type of song you can write. We believe everyone has a hit song inside of them. What’s yours?
©2022 Brant Menswar All rights reserved.