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Jim Bagnola – a leader, and now a friend.
I first met Madalina Barbu from HPDI a few months ago, when we invited her over to discuss a possible collaboration with OWL. Needless to say, we hit it off immediately and we started colliding on common subject matters. I must admit I was fascinated by the assertiveness she transmits only by sitting next to you, not to mention a very open and friendly approach.
After we discussed a bit about our goals and our previous activities, with the purpose, of course, of inviting her to hold a workshop with us, she looked at us, smiled and said: “You definitely need to meet Jim!”
“If you’re not getting what you want, you either have to change your goal or change your behavior. Which will it be?” Jim Bagnola
Jim delivers training materials and speeches on motivation and leadership for over 30 years in more than 92 countries and works on a regular basis with international clients such as NASA, US Secret Services, Shell Oil. In Romania, he works exclusively with HPDI and from what I understand, not only they work together, but they are one big family, as Jim is known as the Godfather of HPDI. He spent the last years of his life exploring how the thinking patterns influence our health, happiness, success and the capacity to lead.
Jim started his speech with a story, as all great speakers do.
He told us about the Japanese company Morinaga (the Japanese Hershey’s) and their success in the market in the last 115 years. In a discussion about Conscious Capitalism, the Chairman shared their three values for success:
• Be Just
• Be Socially Responsible
• Connect with Values-driven Consumers
With these three key-points in mind, Jim shifted his speech towards Leadership and, furthermore, Feminine Leadership, by touching the subject of honoring diversity and utilizing the power of feminine creativity and intelligence.
So what does it mean to be a leader? What does it take?
If you think you’re a leader and no one is following then you’re not leading, you’re just taking a walk.
There is no such thing as born leaders, unless you are the strong twin or triplet, Jim likes to joke. In fact, being a leader is all about having an internal locus of control – the mind-body connection – that translates into internal focus on values that bring creation and produce energy.
In fact, the question is really not “How do I become a leader?” but rather “How do I get people to follow me?”
So how do you get people to follow you?
Depending on who you’re asking, the answers can vary: you need empathy, you need to have credibility, you need to model, you need to communicate. Truth is, if you don’t coach well, you don’t have credibility. If you don’t provide facts, you don’t have credibility. In God we trust, for everything else, bring data. If you don’t model, people will not act in any different way – it’s all about what you model, tolerate and reinforce. If you lack empathy or communication skills, people will automatically back off, as everyone is striving for authenticity.
All these are given elements. In the end, however, it’s all about passion. Passion and energy. In fact, Jim pointed out that Leadership is one and the same with Energy Management: yours and the energy of the people who you want to follow you.
In order to commit to an idea, people need to feel motivated and inspired, they need to have a clear and thriving answer for “What’s in it for me?” As they strive for authenticity, an energetic and passionate leader is immediately spotted.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nobody is good enough to lead without consent”.
We are responsible for our own energy. We empower or dis-empower ourselves constantly, through each role-play we enroll in within our own minds. Studies show that an average person speaks around 5000 words daily with the others, while addressing 60.000 words to selves. 60.000! We talk to ourselves more than we even talk to anybody else, therefore isn’t it only logical that we need to have a good relationship with ourselves, first?
The Galvanic response experiment showed us how disabling messages we send daily to ourselves and others weaken us. We keep ourselves and the others down by blaming and criticizing and refusing to take responsibility and control over what we experience, with phrasing like “Why is this always happening to me?”, “There’s nothing I can do”, “I have to”, “Don’t you know better than that?”, “What’s your problem?”, “Why are you so far behind the others?”.
The Millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2004, are adventurous, they need to be entertained. They’re nomadic, will quickly leave places, ideas and leaders to move towards improved ones, better ones, as they’re also practical and results oriented. As they are diverse, they need to be constantly engaged and challenged, they need to be energized in order to do everything they want to do. In terms of values, us, the Millennials are conscious, civic oriented, compassionate, pragmatic idealists, liberal and confident, therefore the leader followed must have aligned values.
Having aligned values not only gains trust, but also keeps it. Plus, think about it: if you value something and you compromise your values, you will not like yourself. Your brain will trigger the body with stress hormones, which have a negative impact over your health.
Did you know that the biggest stress diseased illnesses are heart attacks and cancer? Most heart attacks are registered on Monday morning, between 6 and 9 am. Least, on Friday. Seems only logical, nobody wants to die before the weekend…
It goes the same for the internal dialogue we have with ourselves daily – we can choose every time to treat ourselves with growing, energizing dopamine or with destructive, health-eating stress hormones, by the mental models we embrace and build.
“It’s better to trust and be disappointed once in a while than to distrust and be miserable all the time”. A. Lincoln. Actually, Jim Bagnola quoting Abe Lincoln.
The current generation is looking to learn, we don’t need a leader for something we know how to do. We want to take risks with who we are and our ideas. We want mentor-ship, appreciation, recognition, challenge and motivation. We are and we want professional problem solvers and we are looking for intelligence, creativity and energy in order to continue to be.
We are the generation that realizes that change is happening and the real question is not how to dodge it or to fight it, but how do you deal with it?
The number one Leadership Rule is that Leaders have willing, voluntary followers.
Engaged employees, the followers of leaders, are constantly invested in their work and committed to the organization as well as take less sick days than the not engaged ones, the subordinates, or the actively disengaged, the insubordinates.
The natural way of Millennials mental model is “You should teach me how to be great at what I do, otherwise I won’t follow you”. Millennials shifted the meaning of power and success towards building strong relationships, alliances, rather than competing, combat-mode, as the alliance brings energy and motivates while combat triggers stress elements, and the Millenials are naturally built to seek to optimize everything, including their own well-state.
The second Leadership Rule is that Leaders rely on influence beyond authority.
It’s all about problem solving – you either have the ability and a good idea to solve a problem, or you are in good relationships with people who do. Being a leader and being a follower it’s about having good relationships with people you share your ideas with. And you cannot be a leader at the appropriate time if you cannot be a follower at the appropriate time as well.
You do NOT need a title to lead.
The 8 Critical Management skills show that a leader does not desire to lead and take control, but to serve and help.
The third Leadership Rule is that Leadership is a field of interaction between Leader and Follower. A partnership.
In a partnership people succeed because they are collaborative, the members trust each other and have roughly equal voices, they are sensitive to one anothers’ emotions and needs and discuss openly without fear of retribution, which builds psychological safety. Achieving a state of psychological safety allows us to focus on solving problems and achieving goals, offers a clearer view as a noise in the background stopped humming.
In a partnership each party holds and acknowledges its own responsibility. “I didn’t mislead, you misfollowed” and “I don’t want to look stupid, so let’s just be stupid” are two of the patterns that leader-follower relationship aims to break. Everything we want in a leader we want in a follower, thus each one of us need to constantly ask ourselves “What is my role in this problem?” and “What do I have to do for this to work?”.
We share a 50/50 rule and we are equal in our success and our responsibilities.
Leadership is the base for Productivity and it relies on Followership, which builds from Relationship, which emerges from Trust. At the end of the day, you need to lead, follow or get out of the way.
Amongst the best practices of Conscious Capitalism we can find two more queues: Learn about other cultures – honor diversity and Utilize the power of Female Creativity and Intelligence.
The Leader Test gives 3 questions to be answered by the followers:
• Is s/he competent?
• Does s/he care about you as a person?
• Do you trust her/him?
If any of the answers is NO, the test is failed.
Studies have shown that women already have a kick-start in the Trust area, as they communicate more (speak more words per day than men) and more efficient (they feel comfortable sharing information) and pick up easily non-verbal cues. Also, they score better in emotional sensitivity, empathy and patience. These skills offer a gift for networking and negotiations, as they value linking workers rather than ranking them and have a preference for equality based teams. Women value an interactive and collaborative leadership style along with fruitful collaborations, which helps achieving psychological safety.
Women honor intuition as well as rationality, which doubles their chances in finding the best approach in terms of win-win. They see redistribution of power as a victory, not as a surrender as they are inherently flexible. And due to the fact they’re emphatic, they appreciate discovering and understanding cultural diversity, another key point for success.
Women have a kick start in the road towards leadership due to all these skills and all we need to do is to grow our competence.
In today’s society, assertive men are labeled as macho while assertive women are labeled as aggressive. Truth is, being assertive is not different for the genders, it has the same meaning for all human beings: I don’t step on your line but I sure won’t step on mine either. It’s about acknowledgement, reciprocity and respect. Consent – Trust – Integrity.
So, dear Millennial, what did you choose today? Will you empower or dis-empower yourself and others? Will you take action within an energizing mental model? Will you lead, follow or get out of the way?