Napoleon Hill Certified Instructor, Jan Poscovsky, who I met at the 2011 Napoleon Hill Leader Certification trip in Ireland, wrote a great article on Leadership for my website and newsletter readers. Enjoy!
"We are all leaders--whether we want to be or not. There is always someone we are influencing--either leading them to good--or away from good." Leif Erickson
We may all be leaders, but what type of leaders are we?
Is the payback we get different depending on the type of leader we are?
I believe it is, and here’s why:
First, I believe that there are basically three categories in which we as leaders fall. We are either a willing leader, a reluctant leader or a leader by default.
If you consider yourself to be a willing leader you are someone who stepped up and took on a leadership position in some form or fashion, congratulations! You saw a need and filled it. Those of us who have run for an elected office within an organization or club, or who have petitioned to be a leader fall into the category of willing leader.
If you are a person who grudgingly agreed to take on a position because someone twisted your arm, you would be a reluctant leader.
And a person, who has avoided leadership opportunities at all cost, is still a leader, even if it is by default.
All three leaders serve as role models, but are they leading their followers to good or away from good?
You might be asking how someone can be a leader when they aren’t in charge of anything and they aren’t leading anyone anywhere. The truth is that through action or inaction, people are influencers, and by virtue of that influence, they are leading.
Take the impressionable child who watches the actions of his or her older brother, a person he looks up to and idolizes. That child will usually model whatever behavior he sees, whether good or bad. The older brother is being a leader by default to that younger sibling.
There are many other examples that you have probably seen illustrated throughout your life where these influencers have a negative impact on others. But instead, let’s look at the positive impact that leadership has for the willing leader.
We mostly hear what quality leadership does for those who follow, but we rarely hear about how leadership benefits the leader. When a leader willingly takes on his role, and does his job with enthusiasm and with a positive attitude, there are multiple benefits that result. By doing his job in the best way possible, and “going the extra mile”, that leader activates 4 universal laws or rules - the Law of Compensation, the Law of Increasing Returns, the Law of Reciprocity and finally, the Law of Contrast. These powerful and immutable truths provide many tangible and intangible benefits for the leader.
The first law is the “Law of Compensation.” You’ve probably heard the old adage, “What goes around, comes around.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a beautiful essay about this law. He explained that we must live in abundance rather than in a void. If we have gifts, we should share them, for the mere act of doing so, willingly, brings them back to us. When we appreciate others, we receive appreciation in return. As a willing leader, the giving of your gift of leadership helps many people accomplish their goals. By helping people along their path to greatness, you as a willing leader feel fulfilled. You also create a grateful following.
The second law, the “Law of Increasing Returns,” is similar to the “Law of Compensation” with a twist. It states that whatever you put out there, comes back multiplied, based your attention and intention. Napoleon hill used a formula, Q + Q +MA = C explained as follows: The Quality plus the Quantity of your service, plus the Mental Attitude with which it is delivered results in the Compensation you receive. This applies whether in wages or in the manner in which one is received and perceived. The Law of Increasing Returns provides you with a bounty if you invest your time and energy. A perfect example of how it works is what happens when a gardener plants just one tomato seed. If he plants it in fertile soil, waters it, makes sure it gets plenty of sunlight, a plant will sprout from that one seed. If he continues to nurture that one plant with intention and attention, it will eventually produce a crop of many tomatoes, rewarding its overseer with increasing returns.
By being a leader and investing your time and energy in others, the Law of Increasing Returns will provide additional benefits beyond making you feel good. It will provide you with the respect, the support and the cooperation of others. Having a loyal following will ultimately make your life easier and allow you to get more done. You will be able to make connections that will help take you places.
The third universal law from which a willing leader benefits is the Law of Reciprocity. Author and psychologist Robert Cialdini, PHD sites the “rule of reciprocity” as this: “The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient of an act to repayment in the future, the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with confidence that it is not being lost. This sense of future obligation within the rule makes possible the development of various kinds of continuing relationships, transactions, and exchanges that are beneficial to the society. Consequently, all members of the society are trained from childhood to abide by the rule or suffer serious social disapproval.”
Cialdini also shares how years ago, the Hari Krishna, in an attempt to fund their sect, would panhandle to no avail. Their repeated requests for donations were ignored. Then they discovered the Law of Reciprocity. They began to hand people flowers or little booklets and amazingly, people would dig grudgingly into their pockets and pay them. These refined tactics made them a very wealthy organization.
As leaders, when our motives are pure and we give the gift of ourselves - sharing what we know, mentoring others to be their best- we create the basis of obligation from our followers. When it is time for us to ask for assistance, the people who have benefitted from our leadership are more likely to help us out. They are also more likely to become future leaders – wanting to give back because they have received so much.
The fourth law that provides benefits to the willing leader is the Law of Contrast. This law states that when someone goes the extra mile and does more than what is expected, he stands out from the crowd. This is especially true when his performance is compared to others who are working at the same job, but doing so with less enthusiasm (Q+Q+MA= C).
An illustration of how this works is to compare two silver dollars. One has been highly buffed and glistens while the other is dull, dirty and not very attractive. Each is of the same currency and minted in the same year. If you were given a choice to pick one of the coins, which would you choose? It’s most likely that you would choose the shiny one because it is clean, attractive and stands out in comparison the dull and dirty one. The same holds true for leaders. A leader who stands out and who does his job beyond expectations will gain loyal followers. These loyal fans will often support that willing leader beyond the scope of the relationship within which they currently interact. Additionally, that leader will draw attention from others who acknowledge the job that he is doing. That attention could possibly lead to new opportunities and open new doors.
We may all be leaders, but being the best leader one can be – a leader who is engaged and truly exudes joy in his leadership - produces benefits beyond measure. A willing leader will gain as much if not more than what his followers receive from the leadership he provides. Since we are all leaders, doesn’t it make sense for us to be the best leaders we can be? Being a willing leader will make the world a better place. As long as we share our gifts with genuine generosity and without expectation, the universe will compensate us by making our place a better world. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Jan Poscovsky has been a member of Toastmasters since 1993 and has served in numerous leadership roles. While serving as the 2010-2011 District 56 Governor, the senior leadership position for the greater Houston area’s territory of the Toastmasters International organization, she was responsible for managing 55 staff members, 175 clubs and 3500 members.
Jan and her husband Stan, who are known as the "Spouses Selling Houses" have been selling residential real estate together in the Houston suburbs since they were married, 33 years ago.
Jan got the running bug 7 years ago and has completed six full marathons. She now restricts her running activities to half marathons and sprint triathlons.
her never ending quest for excellence, she has just completed her Bachelor
of Arts degree in Social Sciences from the University of Alabama and
will walk the stage on December 15, 2012