A leader of character approaches all work with excitement and energy. Vitality is a key attribute to highly effective leadership. It is the bit of character that plays out as an overriding sense of exuberance. An almost gushing excitement for leaders about what they are doing. We have met many seemingly quiet, even reserved leaders, who come alive like a switch has been flicked, when they are given a platform to engage in the topic that is deeply important to them.
Whilst I believe that physical health and a sufficient level of physical fitness to get us through long leadership days are both really important, I think that it is an inner force that produces the most powerful and vital leaders. Leaders of character have a deep sense of what is important to them and the organisations within which they lead. It is this deep connection that produces what others see as energy and vitality.
However, there is what can appear at first to be a downside to such vitality and that is that not everybody is going to be as engaged by your ‘thing’ as others will be. Indeed, your own passion for your ‘thing’ may come across as vitality to some but pushy or overbearing to others.
Let me give you a great example: Gary Vaynerchuk came to prominence as a very early e-commerce guru in the world of wine. He built his father’s wine business to be highly successful, through using the internet, at a time when most of us were just getting used to email!! In more recent years he has set up his own multi-million dollar media company and gives key-note speeches all over the world.
Here’s the thing: Gary V's style is so ‘in your face’ (with expletives aplenty), that many people, myself included, are initially put off by him. He is strident. He is forceful. But he is also really clear on his message, awesome at what he does and unapologetic about being himself. He appears to have taken his own social filters away and as a result has buckets of vitality to spare - including his legendary 18-20 hour long work days. He inspires so many people through his energy that it is difficult not to get swept up in it, even when you were initially sceptical.
The point here is not to suggest you start swearing and ranting at those you lead, rather the point is that you get clear on what really drives you. What is the deep down ‘thing’ that excites you and will engage others? That will help you tap into inner energy and also help you avoid feeling like you are faking it with lots of fluff and superficial hype.
If you can’t be vital and alive about an element of your own leadership, there is slim chance you can influence positive engagement with those you lead. You may already know clearly what it is that genuinely and deeply excites you. For others of us it can be a longer process to discover it but you’ll know it when you do because the reserves of energy you have to pursue your 'thing' can at times seem almost limitless.
Best of luck, Glenn.
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