founder of naked leader

Leadership from a different perspective – Yours

Naked Leader Week – 148 (w/c Monday 20 March 2006)

Leadership from a different perspective – Yours

 On the final day, in the final session, of my Leadership Master Classes, I ask everyone to write down one amazing strength/attribute/quality about themselves, and to do the same for everyone else with whom they have shared the experience.

Sometimes, we do this on Post-it notes, one for each person, so that on a course of ten people, each person will end up with ten separate Post-its, each with one inspiring and amazing comment on it, covering all ten people.

They then take it in turn to stand up, share what they have written about themselves, and hear from the others, again about themselves, while they are standing at the front of the room. After each person speaks, they then stick the Post-it onto the person.

It is powerful beyond description, stays in the memory forever and is, without doubt, the most powerful way to close any leadership event.

On a Master Class in early 2004, the most amazing thing happened.

Alan Hutchinson was one of the delegates, and when his turn came to share his thoughts with the first person standing, he said:

“You will be successful, because you are you”

And stuck on the post-it note

I remember thinking, ‘that’s a bit general, maybe he didn’t get time to write anything more specific’

The second delegate stood up, and we went round the room again. When it came to Alan he stood up and said:

“You will be successful, because you are you”

Now I was curious. What was he up to – here was everyone else being very personal, and Alan had said exactly the same thing, using exactly the same word, to both delegates.

Alan was seated such that in three goes, he would be standing up.

Sure enough, after the next delegate – and these people had become so much more than that – they had become friends – Alan stood up and said again.

“You will be successful, because you are you”

Now I was interested – I glanced around the room. Because I was the facilitator I was able to observe, and I saw what I always saw. Absolute focus, attention and energy in the room, on what people were saying, what others were hearing, on handshakes and hugs, and on avoiding certain parts of each other’s anatomies as the post-its were “posted”

Two to go to Alan standing up – surely, I thought, he had not spent his entire hour’s preparation for this writing out ten times on post-it notes:

“You will be successful, because you are you”

No, he had not.

For the next two, the same. He stood up, always looking directly into their eyes, and very very sincerely saying:

“You will be successful, because you are you”

Now it was to be his turn to stand up. With an amazing mix of wonder, anticipation and some anxiety I watched Alan stand up.

Surely he would not say it again.

No, he did not.

He said:

“I will be successful, because I am me”

A tear came to my eye, on an afternoon when I moved from concern to confusion to anxiety to curiosity to interest to wonder to admiration to joy and finally to arriving home.

All in 30 minutes.

And then it flowed through me – as I had been sharing these messages, and listening to leaders around the world, while travelling on these journeys myself, I had missed the one, key fundamental message that sums it all up.

I had been putting together this message as a jigsaw puzzle, travelling around, finding pieces here, and finding pieces there. I had often thought how exciting (and frustrating) it all was, because although I was gathering together many pieces, I had nothing to compare them to, because I had no picture on the front of the box.

And in those 30 minutes I rejoiced, because I finally realised, life is not about putting the pieces together – it is a lot more fun when they are rattling around inside.

No, life is about looking at the picture on the box.

And The Naked Leader jigsaw box is great fun – with all of our experiences, knowledge and strengths inside, ready for us to use anytime we wish. And more.

For, on the front of the box, is a picture.

And, of course, that picture is of you.


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