1) Unusually great; 2) Remarkable; 3) So exceptional as to provoke astonishment or admiration.
Know that “it’s all about you”. But not in anything remotely resembling a self-centered way. Employees do not exist solely to pay homage to their leaders. They should not have to hang on your every word, responding with “How high?” when you command them to “Jump!” The world does not and should not revolve around you, as if others were extras in your personal movie.
Focus on we. Soul-inspiring leaders are more interested in ‘we’ than ‘I’ – as in generating an environment where we (read: everyone) are cherished for our true selves. They realize that every individual is unique and therefore worthy of being seen as ‘x-traordinary’. They transform ordinary leadership into ‘x-traordinary’ by focusing on others over themselves.
Get real. Soul-inspiring leaders accept full responsibility for the fact that greater authenticity at work starts with them. By modeling sincerity and truthfulness, they encourage others to do the same. They invite everyone to offer their whole
selves to the task at hand, which inevitably translates into greater productivity, creativity and profitability.
Demonstrate openness. While typical managerial advice counsels not to get too close to associates, true leaders recognize openness is a necessary ingredient to being fully trusted. This implies disclosure – not about your darkest secrets – but about who lives within your interior. Leaders take the first step to creating a culture founded on trust and collaboration.
Stop withholding. When leaders withhold as if they were keeping an ace card close to their chests, people can never really ascertain their true motives. Leaving others guessing has the effect of dissipating energy and having them wish they would for once trust enough to share their full ‘deck’. Withholding breeds mistrust – the opposite of ‘x-traordinary’ authenticity.
Distinguish between being positive and unnaturally optimistic. There is a big difference between being grounded while others are losing their heads and a certain rosy-ness that denies chaos. For team members with a personal values around speaking out, such ultra-optimism actually shuts down more authentic communication. It frustrates and demoralizes, if not downright punishes them for speaking up.
Treat vulnerability as a strength. ‘X-traordinary’ leaders are comfortable showing their own imperfections. Through such considered exposure, they show their approachability. They let followers see they are both human and humane.
People must see there is a person behind the leader. If you are not compassionate, employees will hide their realness. Then everyone loses.
Dedicate yourself to a continuous process of revelation. Attaining soul-inspiring leadership entails tuning in to your particular genius, and using those gifts to derive a personal style that works for you. It is a commitment to live with personal honour – an implied active verb tense. Always remember: nobody can be you like you…and that is ‘x-traordinary’!
Questions For Reflection
How would you describe your real self – who you are when no one is looking?
To what degree would you say your associates really know you – right to the extent of them introducing you as their friend?
As yourself: “Why would anyone want to be led by me?”