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Summary: The importance of motivation in leadership cannot be denied. But most leaders overlook a critical component of motivation, the human dream. Before you can work with people's dreams, you must identify what they dream, a sometimes difficult task. Here's how to make such an identification.
In Leadership, Identifying Dreams That Lead To Great Results
by Brent Filson
History teaches that when people needed to do great things, a leader first had to gather them together and speak from the heart. This heartfelt speech was often connected to defining and reinforcing a dream shared by both the leader and the people.
Drill down through goals and aims and aspirations and ambitions of the people you lead, and you'll hit the bedrock of human motivation, the dream.
For instance, Martin Luther King did not say, "I have a goal." Or "I have an aim." The power of that speech was in the "I have a dream".
A dream embraces our most cherished longings. It embodies our very identity. We often won't feel fulfilled as human beings until we realize our dreams.
If leaders are not tapping into the power of people's dreams, if leaders are simply setting goals (as important as goals are), they miss the best of opportunities to help those people take ardent action to achieve great results.
But what do people dream? How can we discover their dreams? After all, people usually won't tell you what they dream until they trust you. They won't trust you until they feel that you can help them attain their dreams. Knowing and sharing their dream can cement a deep, emotional bond between you.
Here are three things you can do to get at what people dream. Be helpful. Be hopeful. Be scarce.
Be helpful. Follow the Leadership Imperative: I WILL LEAD PEOPLE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY NOT ONLY ACHIEVE THE RESULTS WE NEED BUT THEY ALSO BECOME BETTER AS PEOPLE AND AS LEADERS.
The relationships cultivated by the Imperative lend themselves to dream sharing and dream motivation.
Be hopeful: "Hope," said Aristotle, "is a waking dream". Nobody wants to be associated with a leader who thinks the job can't get done.
In the face of dire circumstances, there is usually hope to find and communicate.
A great leader I knew who consistently had people get more results faster, continually, had a refrain: "You may think you can't meet the goals I set for you. But I believe in you and I believe you can and I'll support you in every way possible so you can."
That hopeful refrain had the power of a dream; and in the relationships he established, he was able to identify and share in their dreams.
Be scarce: Cultivate the art of being scarce. In other words, give them space to get results.
Use this art the way a homeopath prepares medicine by diluting drugs which would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the full-blown disease.
The full-blown disease in this case is total scarcity -- meaning the leader is never around. Not being there for the people can be a leadership pathology. After all, in the historical example, a leader had to GATHER PEOPLE TOGETHER -- leader had to be with the people.
Many leaders are absent without leave. One secretary described her seldom seen CEO as follows: "He's like Elvis -- There are rumors of sightings of him. The only time we know he's around is when we smell is pipe smoke."
But being with the people can be a fault, if the people resent it. They make think you're trying to micro-manage them or are snooping around trying to get the goods on them.
The art of being scarce is predicated on your giving them the space to do well. The coach of a great Arkansas basketball team said, "I don't want to hamper them by coaching them." Likewise, don't hamper the people you lead by leading them in a domineering way.
People's dreams are pathways to their inner heart and their most ardent desires. However, most leaders don't know how to go down those paths. Be helpful, be hopeful, be scarce will help you walk your talk, letting people get great results though the gift of their dreams.
2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at http://www.actionleadership.com
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