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Be an Inspired Leader

Leadership can be learnt – as long as your business goals align with your highest values.

Dr John Demartini

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Everyone has an inherent leader inside them. This inner leadership may not be in business and finance, two areas that are more socially acknowledged. It may be in sports, social, beauty or in family matters. Leaders can arise in all areas of life.

People tend to naturally arise in the areas of their highest values or priorities. Although we all have a leader inside, unless we set our sails in the direction of our highest values, our leadership won’t emerge and become discovered by ourselves or others.

The role of leadership

Every business initially requires a leader to get it off the ground and fly. Without a leader there will be no direction and no momentum factor to start the ball rolling. Leaders give power to objectives and provide actions that others follow. Even clients act as followers to the leader. The greater the leader, the greater the base of customers who will follow along the trail of innovation.

There are different types of leaders. Younger leaders are generally more speculative and aggressive or impulsive than the more mature. Less experienced leaders often take spontaneous actions, and then discover the repercussions afterwards, but they have time on their side to learn by their mistakes.

Mature leaders on the other hand, with previous mentorship, have seasoned, trial and error experiences to draw on for their decision-making. They tend to take more calculated risks and think out contingencies more thoroughly to assure their odds of success. They may be slower in growth but more enduring in outcome.

The most important element of leadership is the congruency between someone’s goals or intentions and their highest values and priorities, which when aligned allow the greatest creativity and productivity to emerge. Authentic original ideas and companies are born out of such congruency.

These visionaries are unstoppable. When leaders do not subordinate to the opinions of the outer world and stay true to what inspires them from within, they transform their outer world. They are new paradigm makers – not traditionalists who follow the norm.

The basics of leadership

While each leader is different, there are a few basic elements that all great leaders possess:

  • The congruency between goals or intentions and highest values or priorities. This is sometimes known as integrity.
  • Clarity of the mission to be accomplished which is also aligned with the needs of the market place.
  • Clarity of the vision to be fulfilled.
  • Clarity of the strategy of accomplishment.
  • Identification with their mission and enthusiasm for their inspired action.
  • Inspiring teams to participate in the mission and vision according to their team members’ own highest values.
  • Quick decision-making and certainty of action.
  • Listening to feedback and refining policies and procedures toward ever greater efficiencies and efficacies.
  • Continued adaptability and innovation.
  • Appreciation of the journey and continued expansion of the destination.

The behaviour of many leaders has been strange, even seeming to be counter-productive. Steve Jobs is one famous example. Even Henry Ford was erratic in his way of dealing with people. In fact, great business leaders have come in every imaginable type. What is the factor that makes unusual leaders
effective?

In a nutshell, they all harness some of the basics of true leadership. Their quirks add flavour to their personalities but their basics are still in place. They are still congruently committed to their outcomes. They have no turning back mentalities and show their determined paths of adventure and refinement. They still calculate their risks, make decisions and take actions.

Though they vary in the other outer personas their inner drives are still intact and their unwillingness toward defeat makes them climb, tunnel or go around any and every mountain. Their challenges are their sources of fuel and their obstacles are their stimulating companions. Look beyond the outer façade and you will still discover the core of the true leader as they drive their ambitions to the top.

Learning leadership

The good news is that you don’t need to be a ‘born’ leader, it can be learnt or at least awakened from its slumber by setting congruent objectives and clarifying missions and visions according to the true highest values of the individual.

I have seen people who have sat stagnant for months or years awaken to their inner power and begin to lead by simply asking themselves the right questions and making the right associations.

Again, this goes back to understanding your own highest values. When you see how building a business can help you fulfill your highest values, or you choose a business path that aligns with your values, you will naturally embrace your own leadership capabilities.

No one works for the sake of a company. Everyone, consciously or subconsciously, works to fulfill their highest values.

Business success and leadership

Another question I’m often asked: Can you be successful in business without being a good leader? The simple answer is yes. If you surround yourself with other leaders and create effective teams of specialists that are dedicated to your mutual goals and objectives, the business will be rewarded sufficiently to build momentum.

Some of the greatest companies have been built by individuals who had the savvy to hire great teams of specialists with knowledge and skills that exceeded their own. They may have held the vision or initiated the new idea but they realised their strengths and weaknesses and allowed themselves to step out of the way of their ever emerging enterprise. There are people who are great at ideas and then there are great implementers. They are often referred to as visionaries and detail people respectively.

Some of the most powerful companies have grown out of the combination of two complementary people and their talents. Hold the vision, gather the right players, build the team and win the game. But make sure that all are congruent with their highest values along the way.

Dr John Demartini is a health professional, an expert on human behaviour, the mind and body connection and on the laws of the universe. He is a bestselling author of nine self-help books translated into 22 languages. He teaches full time assisting people across the world to see the order in their perceived chaos and consults to business leaders around the world. He is also the Founder of the Demartini Institute with a branch in South Africa, Johannesburg. Whenever he is in SA, he donates his time freely to deliver inspired talks to SA's Police Service, Prison Wardens, Prisoners, teachers and disadvantaged young adults. For more information on the Demartini Institute in South Africa call +27 11 0119093 or visit www.DrDemartini.com To receive a complimentary audio presentation by Dr Demartini titled: Staying Focused on Goals, visit http://www.drdemartini.com/entrepreneurmag

Leading

What A Grade 1 Sticker Business Taught Me About Business

It’s the very fundamentals that are frequently overlooked amid ambition and “blue sky thinking” – yet, these remain the most crucial element of any business.

Grant Field

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When I was a kid, my father believed that instead of getting pocket money, my brothers and I should learn how to make money. Stickers were the school craze when I was in Grade 1, and we wanted a collection for ourselves, so Dad said if we wanted to buy the stickers, we needed to make the money. So, logically, we started a sticker trading business. Dad gave us the start-up money and took us through the basics of business.

We had a cash float for purchases, and learnt about cost price, mark-up and selling price – very basic accounting. We kept recycling that money, making extra and using it to buy more stickers. Then we worked out that if we increased the mark-up, we’d make a bigger profit – so why not make the mark-up as big as possible? The obvious happened. Our prices were too high, and we lost customers.

Valuable business lesson learnt, we came back down to a mark-up that other kids were willing to pay for.

More lessons to learn

Then people came to us and asked if they could take a sticker today and pay us tomorrow. We saw no reason not to trust them. Guess what? They didn’t pay us back. We had bad debt on our hands. When we sold out of stickers, we had cash-flow issues and couldn’t buy more stock. Dad was there to help us out, though, so we received another capital injection to get back off the ground. And this time, if we did extend credit, we loaded it for the privilege of “buy now, pay later” – another lesson learnt.

We ran a proper ledger for the business, tracking our inventory, sales and profit. Even if our “bank” account was a piggy bank, we had a clear record of what was going on. When I look back on it, none of what I learnt was irrelevant.

Today, I run a leading financial services company with billions of rand running through our bank accounts. Even though the finances of the business are run on a much larger scale, the principles of business – those basic principles that we learnt trading stickers – still power our company. And when I see entrepreneurial ventures failing, or when friends come to me for advice because their business is struggling, it’s almost always because they haven’t got these basics right.

Related: Successful SA Entreps Share Their Most Valuable Business Advice Ever Received

Clarity

One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that if you don’t fully understand how the money is being made, walk away. Whether you are dealing with stickers or financial services, the business principles should be straightforward: money coming in, money going out, and profitability.

Every day, I look at an Excel statement of my company’s forty bank accounts. Every day, I look at the cashflow, and unusual big-ticket items get a note so I know what’s going on. It’s just like that Grade 1 business, only on a bigger scale.

Entrepreneur, thwarted

Once the other kids saw the success of our sticker business, they started to want to get in on the action, so they came to market with their own competing products. At first, we were able to innovate as the competition squeezed our margins and started to impact on our profits. Eventually, the whole situation got completely out of hand and the school banned sticker trading for profit.

While I didn’t become a sticker magnate, the lessons I learnt in Grade 1 remain central to every business I am involved with – get the basics right.

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Leading

How To Handle A Director Who Always Says No

Diverse opinions on a board is a good thing — but is it boosting your business, or hindering growth and decisions?

Carl Bates

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Do you have that director on your board who always says ‘no’? Regardless of what the issue is, regardless of the context, who raises it or whether or not it is indeed a good idea, their response is either a simple ‘no’ or an elongated perspective on why they disagree? It can even feel at times that they are actively working against the company and against the board. Although they obviously do not see it that way.

Experienced directors will have multiple war stories related to this subject. Aspiring directors should be aware of how to approach these situations when they arise and how to avoid becoming the subject of such stories.

Develop a culture of trust, candour and professionalism

A board’s conduct must be characterised by trust, respect, candour, professionalism, accountability, diligence and commitment. It is the board’s collective responsibility to build this culture and to engage with one another in a productive and effective way.

Dissent should be welcomed when it is constructive and engaging. The idea of being the ‘devil’s advocate’ for the sake of it however, is not the best way to approach this. Dissent should be based on a real belief that the issue has not been fully debated or creates a real challenge for the company going forward.

If you have a director who genuinely believes a different path is right for the company, hear them out and engage in the discussion. In my experience, this often opens up an issue or changes a detail that when taken as part of the whole, improves the decision-making outcome for the board and the company.

Related: Contributing In The Boardroom

Remove the politics from the boardroom

At the heart of this issue is often politics. Politics between directors, who are also shareholders or executives. Politics between the ‘new guard’ and the ‘old.’ Regardless of the genesis, politics really do not have a place in the boardroom and directors who engage in it should be called out by the chairman or another senior director.

In local government I have heard stories of councillors who always vote ‘no,’ so that whenever something goes wrong, they can say “I told you so,” and show the public why they should be re-elected. But that is indeed politics. The boardroom is a very different space. It is private and discussions should be confidential.

Board rotation, a simple solution

While the removal of an errant director should never just be left to resolve itself, there is a simple solution that can support the easy removal of the most difficult directors. The challenge is that it requires forward planning prior to the appointment of any new director.

Directors should only ever be appointed for a predefined term, with automatic rotation at the end of that term. This does not stop you from reappointing a director for a further period. It is, however, always easier to ask someone to consider a further term than it is to tell them that their time has come and they should resign from the board.

Having a predefined term for a director essentially ensures an automatic resignation period. A simple rotation policy for directors is not just good governance, it is a practical step you can take to provide a way out of a sticky relationship.

Ultimately the board as a whole must address issues that detract from the board fulfilling its function as and when they arise. A rotation policy might provide an effective backstop. A high-performance board is one that will tackle the issue head-on.

Read next: How Diversity Drives Board Performance

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Leading

The Power Pose: Using Body Language To Lead

Use the way you move and stand and interact with others to become a better entrepreneur and leader.

Howard Feldman

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In 2012, the power pose became a global sensation. A Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy hit a staggering 46 million views and became the second most popular Ted Talk in history. The premise was simple – hold a powerful pose and it will not only affect the way you behave but it will even change your body chemistry. Since the talk, the power pose has met with heavy criticism and been labelled as nothing more than pseudoscience. Fortunately for believers, they were proven right. Amy Cuddy released further research this year and it fundamentally proves that this bold stance works exactly how she said it did back in 2012.

The power pose isn’t something that you’d adopt in a meeting or around the office but the science behind it shows how important it is to pay attention to your body language as it can fundamentally change how you are perceived.

Notice how you are noticed

People spend a lot of time reading one another’s body language and the way a person stands or holds their hands or moves can influence how others see them. It’s very natural to judge someone else’s posture, but what about the way they are judging yours? Few people look at how their body language is affecting the way people engage with them.

Related: [Quiz] How Good Are You At Reading Others In Business?

So, what are you supposed to do?

Fake it until you make it

Want to know how can you adapt to become a better leader? You can fake it.

The power pose isn’t the only way to change your mood. Research has shown that whether you laugh naturally or put on a smile and make yourself laugh, your body still releases the same levels of serotonin.

Whether you are really laughing or just pretending to laugh doesn’t matter – they both have the same impact on your demeanour.

Change how others see you

Think about the pose that every athlete adopts when they win a race or achieve something that’s been physically taxing. They hold their hands outstretched in the air. Even blind athletes hold the same pose. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s a physical manifestation of success.

Now consider the defensive pose. The tight hunched shoulders or inward curve of the spine. These poses immediately make a person look nervous, afraid and lacking in confidence. Like the porcupine curling in on itself for protection.

The same ideas apply to daily business life. While the power pose and the athlete pose are not necessarily a team activity, ensuring that you hold your body upright and with confidence means that you’re conveying an attitude of strength. You come across as confident and capable and positive. You are ready to take on anything and overcome the odds.

By contrast, if you are hunched and withdrawn, you come across as nervous and lacking in confidence and these are not the qualities you want associated with you as an entrepreneur and a leader.

Related: (Slideshow) 5 TED Talks That May Change Your Perspective on Life

Body language for entrepreneurs

  • Shake hands like a hero. The way you shake hands with someone is very significant in terms of establishing equality. Be even, be firm but don’t pull people towards you or turn their hands under your own. This makes them feel like you are trying to establish dominance.
  • Create an atmosphere of openness. Maintain eye contact, say hello to people with warmth while holding a strong posture. A warm and open greeting is essential to establishing trust.
  • Do the power pose for two minutes before any meeting or interview. This will get those chemicals stirring and make you feel confident and in charge.

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