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The Leader Evangelist
By Barton Goldsmith

Today's Leader has to be an evangelist - no less of an evangelist than Billy Graham. If you watch the on stage antics of Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, you know he's proselytizing. He jumps around like Mick Jagger at a Rolling Stones concert and builds so much energy in the crowd that even die-hard Microsoft bashers become believers. His charisma is partly responsible for the company's success. Have you delivered that kind of energy to your teams, investors and clients? If not, here are some ideas that can help you.

Just like John Lennon, who huddled the Beatles together before and after every gig to chant "Where are we going? To the top. Which top? The very top!" Today's leader has to inspire their teams. Money will only rent people's time; they have to give you their hearts. This will only happen when they have faith in their leader and their company's vision.

Sometimes this takes as much explanation as motivation. If your teams don't fully understand your vision and fully comprehend their place in it, they can't fully put their hearts there. Ask yourself, have I fully explained the vision for this company? Do my people "get it?" What can I do or say to help them understand, absorb and live the vision. Put the vision in writing and make sure everyone sees it every day. Restate the vision at every meeting and keep it in your team's face. The more they see it and hear it, the more they will absorb it. I also recommend that you use it as a screen saver on all company computers.

It is also important to explain that this is "the vision", not your vision. When Walt Disney was building Disney World in Florida, he gathered all the engineers around a table and stated that he wanted Sleeping Beauty's Castle to be placed in the center of the park, and he wanted it to be the first thing built. The engineers protested and explained that it would cost him millions because it was more efficient to build from the outside in rather than the inside out. Walt said he didn't care about the money. It was more important that everyone involved in the project had a vision so that they could share in "the dream" (not his dream). The rest, as they say, is history.

Yes, we are talking about emotion, the most underutilized business tool at our command. Understanding how to utilize positive emotion is a leader's most powerful tool. If people feel positive about their company's vision they will exceed their own (and your) expectations. Positive feelings about their company inspire them to go the extra mile, stay the extra hour and make the extra phone calls. Everyone needs to feel good about who they work for. It makes them proud to be a part of something that is bigger than they are. As long as they respect what they are doing and like their company, you will get more from them.

One leader I worked with had a difficult time complimenting his staff. He would take time (lots of time) deciding if they deserved a little praise. Even when the company was flying high ($150 million per year), he was reluctant to pat his people on the back. Within two years, several of his top people left to start out on their own. A few of them also took some large clients. The value of his company dropped by ninety percent, the business faltered and was sold to pay debt. It is a sad story that could have been avoided if he had spent his time complimenting his team members instead of figuring out whether they deserved it or not.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself and examine how you are utilizing the emotional power of your team. If you are being a hard-ass and just cracking the whip, you may be engaged in self-flagellation. In other words, you are only hurting yourself. Look, you don't have to like everyone that works for you; you're not renting friends. What you do have to do is get them to like you, and love their company. They have to feel good about what they are doing, it compels people to move ahead instead of treading water. Don't mistake being a leader with being a military commander, you need your people to create and implement, not seek and destroy.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., has started, grown and sold 3 companies. He is a highly sought after keynote speaker, business consultant, and author, who presents to numerous companies, associations and leaders worldwide. He works regularly with The Young President’s Organization (YPO), The Executive Committee (TEC) and The Council of Growing Companies. Dr. Goldsmith writes for the Los Angeles Business Journal, and is a contributing author to over 70 business publications and trade journals. He can be contacted through his web site at: www.BartonGoldsmith.com or at (818) 879-9996







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