Many years ago I received some great advice from an ecclesiastical leader that has been on my mind the last two weeks.
We were talking about the truly great, yet unsung leaders.
They share something in common, he told me. Maybe they’re doers. Maybe they’re persuasive. Maybe they’re high energy. Maybe they’re charismatic.
But note the maybes. These things aren’t automatics, nor are they the difference-makers.
He helped me realize that the truly great leaders are those who reach out to people on an individual basis. They “reach out to The One,” as he put it.
They focus on helping individual people, making an impact on men or women or children on a one-to-one basis. They don’t simply share the stirring speech, or give the moving lesson. Sure, they may want to impact a group of people, but their emphasis is The One.
There’s a quote that we’ve tried to engrain into our children each morning for the last several months that builds on this:
Be one who nurtures and who builds.
Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people.
Leave people better than you found them.
— Marvin J. Ashton
I’ve thought about this maybe because it’s a holiday season-esque notion. But I’ve also been re-thinking whom, how and why I engage people in my business and personal relationships. I think I need to go deeper.
And then there are those relationships that get started more as online interactions. I’ve got a few folks I’ve traded emails with, or direct messages on Twitter, or traded blog comments with, but we’ve not done more to get to know each other. Sometimes that’s fine.
But why can’t those digital connections become more valuable? Is there some reason why they can’t be real connections?
Phil Gerbyshak and I spoke on the phone about this sort of thing recently and it really hit home, and at the same time he went and posted a great challenge asking readers what their word of the year for 2011 is. Home run.
I tucked in a second word and answered his challenge. Reach out. Thanks for the reminder, Phil. I’ve been thinking it’s time to go deeper, not just wider.
How about any of you?