Topic

Leadership

Leading the change we want to see in the world.

Igniting Wonder

Ken Segall from his book Think Simple:

Growing in a controlled way meant Blue Man Group could build a lasting culture. The founders wanted new hires to feel like theirs was a “noble endeavor,” going beyond mere entertainment, doing their part to ignite a bit of childlike wonder in audiences. They wanted everyone who worked in the organization—performers, musicians, production crews, and office staff—to feel like they were a part of delivering this experience.

This is part of the Japanese concept of Kaizen, which states that all members of a team should be empowered to improve processes.

People are not computers. When you encourage them to bring their full creative selves to their work, you open the door to magic.

When you lead others as if they're robots, though, you might limit downside with the bureaucracy you impose. But in doing so, you also cap your unlimited upside.

The world is a richer place to live in when we leave space for ingniting that bit of childlike wonder in those we serve.

See also: Unobtrusive Bits of Whimsy

Carrots and Sticks

There's an old debate involving carrots and sticks about how to motivate the behavior you want in others.

Is it more effective to incentivize people with a carrot? Or to inspire fear in them by brandishing a stick?

A stick might get you the short term results you wanted, but I think most of us would agree that we'd rather find motivation in joy, rather than fear.

People remember how you treat them. Want to build trust and confidence in your leadership? Consider which approach is most sustainable.

This quote, typically attributed to French writer and aviator Antoine St. Exupéry (though perhaps not exactly his words), reminds us that there is no substitute for inspiring others:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

First Followers

Leaders are important, but the first people to follow a leader are just as crucial.

Derek Sivers popularized this idea in his TED talk "How to Start a Movement," which features the following video clip:

In the video, a lone individual starts dancing. It's a little weird at first, because no one else seems to even acknowledge that there's music playing.

But pretty soon, someone else joins in. All of a sudden, the original dancer has credibility – they have a follower signalling to everyone else that it's OK to join in!

If you can't inspire anyone to follow you, it's hard to be a leader, and this is what makes those first followers so essential.

Over the course of the video, more and more people start joining in the dance until soon, it's almost weirder to not be dancing.

And so, a movement is born.

Each of us has the capacity to lead, if we choose. It's an act of courage – of embracing the vulnerability that arises when you take a risk.

And if you see someone who has boldly taken that first step in a direction you agree with, you can recognize their bravery by being the first to follow.

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