"A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
This is one of those memorable quotes that profoundly resonates with me in both personal and professional ways.
The business application might be more obvious.
I've had the great pleasure of working for a few people whom I admired and respected for their own success, wisdom and experience.
The one who stands out in a most positive and singular way is the one who convinced me that it was reciprocal. Even more, I left every conversation with this leader having more confidence in myself and a more invigorated sense of my own capabilities. I'd be charged up. Ready to take on any challenge. Ready to make our business and him more successful as well. Smart guy. Also, a good friend to this day.
Compare that to other leaders who also commanded respect in their own right. And yet, there was always that question mark in my mind about how much they valued me and my contribution to the business. In large part, I met my goals only because I found ways to light my own spark. It wasn't always easy.
When you think of which business will be more successful, will it be the one where people are mustering up their own sense of worth and creating individualized motivation? Or will it be the one that is charged with reciprocal inspiration and an energized rally cry of mutual confidence?
I've been pondering this idea that we can be great leaders in our personal lives too.
For example, parents have a unique opportunity to inspire energy and confidence in their children. I used to think my job was to protect my kids at all times. Demand respect and be worthy of it. Make their lives easy enough with a bond strong enough that we could conquer anything, even puberty!
When my father passed away last year, I realised that one of the greatest gifts he left was my belief in myself. I'm sure there are things he would have spared me, but I also remember times when he very intentionally stepped back and let me figure things out on my own. Through his intentions, words and deeds he made me admire and respect him while also inspiring that same confidence within me. He was a great father.
Sometimes this dynamic is difficult to create with the people in our lives for one simple reason: judgment.
Especially with siblings and friends, sometimes it's hard for us to be as supportive and encouraging as we can (or should) be because we are trying to measure up to something ourselves. Protective walls are made higher by implicit expectations or fear of not being "as good."
In some cases, we just assume they know how much we value them. It simply doesn't occur to us to try to inspire them.
The same way perhaps your boss assumes you know, or doesn't realise that a little proactive feedback would help you, and the business, in dramatic ways.
The lesson, I think, is not only to be someone worthy of admiration but to openly admire others. Let them know. Put forth words and actions that breed confidence.
With this intent, I recently added these words to my vision board:
Inspire and motivate others. Feel inspired and motivated.
Love you all!