Leaders are MADE they are not born.  Anyone at any age and at any time in their life can make the decision to become a leader.  (We discussed this in an earlier section, b LEADER.)  Over the years there have been many theories on leadership and these divergent theories have often times confused people i.e.  The Great Man Theory of the 1800’s, the Trait Theory of the 1920’s, the Behavioral Theory of the 1940s, the Contingency Theory of the 1960s, the Transactional Theory of the 1980s, and the current Transformational Theories of the 2000s, and beyond.  Most of these theories were introduced to the world by academics who spent years, decades and sometimes their entire careers studying people in leadership roles and how they got there.  For instance, the Trait Theory was based on being born with or without leadership traits. This theory was developed during the 1920s and took root in the 1930s, when virtually every business was a family-owned enterprise.  Surprisingly, a high percentage of the leaders in these family owned businesses were family members.  Sure, they all started on the “shop-floor” and worked their way up, but they were pretty much guaranteed a leadership role as most were reserved for family members. Heck, even the least competent was given a role, and often times with no expectations of any value in return.  So, when the academics did their selection, testing, and studying, low and behold they identified that leadership was based on innate traits because that is what the subject matter presented.  The Behavioral Theories of the 1940s and ‘50s began to look at how leaders interacted with people vs. tasks.  These theories were really the early advent of management vs. leadership.  The Contingency theories of the 1960s focused on different leadership styles depending on the situation. Situational Leadership was developed by two academics known as Hersey & Blanchard and they developed the four-stage model known as Selling, Telling, Participating & Delegating.  (Ken Blanchard is perhaps best known for being the author of “the One Minute Manager.”) Moving in to the 1970s and 80s, the Transactional theories came into play.  They were based on a mutual exchange between the leader and the follower, fundamentally a transaction. The theory’s basis is one of rewards and consequences: do well and something positive will happen; don’t do so well and something neutral or negative will happen.  Then in the late 1990s and to this day, leadership theories turned the corner and became known as Transformational Theories. Here we started to see intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, leadership based on alignment and discussions about environmental factors.  Think of all the transformational talk and actions around us: start-up billionaires by age 30, movie-stars becoming governors & presidents, high-school graduates running Fortune 500 companies,  kids of poor economic upbringings becoming uber-wealthy, and all genders and races having great opportunity to achieve what they want to achieve.

Fearless Leadership is perhaps the greatest of all the transformational theories.  Fearless Leadership believes you can achieve what you want to achieve, but it goes a step further and provides you with the eight attributes to develop transformational leadership for those around you in the face of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  And in today’s world, you need to overcome that more than ever.  The attributes to becoming a truly Fearless Leader are:

  1. Leaders have VISION for what they want to achieve.
  2. Leaders build, invest, nurture & manage RELATIONSHIPS.
  3. Leaders intentionally develop their BRAND & reputation.
  4. Leaders develop systems that make them PRODUCTIVE.
  5. Leaders COMMUNICATE clearly & consistently to their audience.
  6. Leaders demonstrate & display EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.
  7. Leaders set GOALS and achieve them through focused pursuit.
  8. Leaders fuel their vision through positively INFLUENCING others.

Creating a VISION that is bigger than yourself is an important attribute to becoming a Fearless Leader.  In good times, your vision will accelerate your success and in challenging times your vision will light your path.  If you have never developed a vision, it may seem like a really big task and an uncomfortable one.  But it doesn’t have to be; it simply takes focused time and energy.  Think about this – how many hours did you spend planning your last vacation?  The average person spends 20 hours on this relatively small task.  Yet, putting in the same 20 hours of focus and energy into developing a vision, will create something that lights your path in life and accelerates your success. This will far outweigh the benefits of a vacation.  Now that you are committed to putting 20 hours aside, try following these three steps:

  1. Make the Vision CLEAR
  2. Make the Vision PERSONAL
  3. Make the Vision POWERFUL

Making the Vision CLEAR – Fearless Leaders serve as a communication beacon for their respective friends, family, companies, colleagues, and community. Especially in bigger groups, it is crucial that communication is clearly delivered to all members. This is for several reasons. One, if we want the job to get done, people need to know what they have to do. Two, when our teams feel they are included in the communication, they are more likely to feel a sense of unity and belonging, and thus a commitment to the goal. Finally, if leaders communicate clearly, they will actually be seen as having the ability to overcome uncertainty and doubt.

Making the Vision PERSONAL – Fearless Leaders have the willingness to dare to dream. They are not afraid of the obstacles, hurdles and challenges that come with achieving greatness. Fearlessness allows us to personally strive for something that we previously might have thought was unattainable because we now have the courage to fail and the faith to succeed.

Making the Vision POWERFUL – Leading fearlessly with a vision allows you to look past your current reality to a bigger, more powerful future.  Leading with a powerful vision, gives you something to strive for in the good times, and something to cling to in the challenging times. A powerful vision is the positive juice others rely on to strive for achieving more.  A powerful vision is also the illuminated path to follow when we are unsure of which path to choose.  Fearless Leaders develop the ability to craft a vision for themselves and those around them.

Fearless Leaders develop RELATIONSHIPS and take the required time to invest in those relationships. Leadership is about organizing a group of people – people require your time, energy, focus and investment.  Fearless Leaders also are willing to put themselves out there and network, meet new people and connect more often.  Sometimes this can be scary because fear, uncertainty and doubt creep in.  But you are developing the attributes and a leadership style that pushes past that, cultivates a network and builds a tribe of people that want to follow your fearless style. And why do they want to follow you?  Because you take their fear away, you lead them to a bigger vision, and they value your leadership in the face of their own doubts.

Slowing down to take the time to build trust and relationships is very challenging. Early in my career I thought I was pretty good at building relationships.  As I grew in my career, and wanted to become a better leader, I realized I was good at creating relationships bud didn’t invest the time to nurture on-going relationships. We’ve all gotten the call, text or email out of the blue from a past relationship asking how we are doing, followed by a favor request.  One day I realized, I was the past relationship doing the sending, and made a conscious decision to get much better at nurturing relationships.  With how busy the world is today, or our own perception of how busy we are, I find myself still challenged to do this, but it is a conscious battle I work on every week.  Why?  Because as a Fearless Leader, I am committed to building trust with them all so someday I can help each of these people by removing some fear, or self-doubt or uncertainty in their lives. I am committed to making the time and the investment no matter how challenging.  Fearless Leaders find a way, and I know you will as well.

Your BRAND will attract or repel fear. Your brand is who you are. As you go through your life’s journey, there is only one thing you will leave this world with and that is your reputation.   Your reputation is your brand. Ever listen to a eulogy closely?  You will hear about someone’s life, their accomplishments and if you listen attentively, you will hear of their brand or their reputation.

Fearless Leaders build a brand that is solid as a rock – because that is the foundation others come to depend on.  Whatever your brand is today, you can improve it, enhance it and have it become known for being a calming influence amongst a storm.  In fact, a truly Fearless Leader makes everyone in the room feel a tad more comfortable simply because they are sitting in the room. As you continue to build your brand, consider the following three ways to make it the best possible:

Be Authentic – Make sure your brand represents who you are and who you are striving to be. Embrace your personality, your attributes, your strengths and channel your energy into developing that brand.  Your first step in doing this is increasing your self-awareness of what that authentic brand is, and we will chat more about that coming up in emotional intelligence.

Be Passionate – Build your brand around what you are passionate about.  If you love animals, that should be part of your brand; if you are creative and artistic, that should be included; if you love sports and athletics, incorporate some sportiness.  If your brand includes your passions, you will absolutely build it faster and with more authenticity.  Why?  Because it represents who you are and what you like, and as humans we tend to do the things we like to do, and we naturally gravitate toward our passions.

Be Tangible – Reputations and brands are built on actions not words. Inevitably, what you do, is who you are.  What you don’t do, is who you are not. What you say you are going to do, isn’t good enough. When people think of you, they will think of the tangible things they know about you – you love animals and volunteer at the pet shelter, you are creative and play the piano, you are sporty and coach youth soccer.  See the connection between your passion and your tangible action? Bring your authentic self to your passions and use life as one big place to showcase your talent tangibly.

Decide to build your brand consciously and start today.

Being PRODUCTIVE is a vital attribute for your long-term success. Successful people Get Stuff Done – let’s refer to it as GSD.  We all have the same amount of time in a given day – 24 precious hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds.  The most productive people have learned how to squeeze the most out of each minute of each day.  Some of us are more naturally productive than others.  If you have kids, you most likely have seen this firsthand, some kids do their homework without any parental prodding while others seem to find distractions easily and all of a sudden need parental support to get a project done by a deadline.   Our professional lives are no different.  Some of us get tasks done quickly, and some of us are getting them done just in time for the meeting.  Two things I know for sure: there is no right way to being productive and the most productive people have a system.  (More on that coming up in b IMPACTFUL.)  As a developing Fearless Leader, I encourage you to build a very simple system and make it yours.

A few tips to jump start your productivity:

Write Things Down – Build your system; start with a notebook or an app, or a stack of stickies, but create a place to write things down.

Create Action List – Each week or day, write an action list out. Notice I didn’t call it a to-do list, just by using the word action, it gives the list a positive lean.

Prioritize Actions – Not all actions are created equal.  Focus on the actions that get you closest and most expediently to your self-driven vision. This will force you to prioritize what you should do first, last, and maybe not at all.  I will also give you some insight; prioritizing your actions may cause you to do some of the tough actions first, and not the easiest.

Treat your time as your most precious asset – build time to think, invest in yourself, develop your productive system for success, and build a brand as someone who will GSD.

Fearless Leaders COMMUNICATE with clarity, transparency and authenticity. Developing your communication attributes is vital to instilling confidence in your audience and removing their fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Communication is how you speak, how you write, how you listen, and how you interact.

The first rule of fearless communication is knowing your audience – do they want more or less, spoken word or written word, in person, email, text, or video – or do they want you to listen first. As you get opportunities to communicate as a leader, take time to prepare and think about what the audience wants, or even what they need.  Do they need you to bring high energy or calming energy, do they want facts or feelings, are they looking for a long communication or a short communication? The more you invest in knowing your audience, the more they will invest in listening to the message.

The second rule of fearless communication is being transparent – sharing with your audience what you know, motivate them in good times and comfort them in challenging times.  In almost all situations, it’s far better to share and explain the situation and align everybody through your communication.  When you only tell part of the story, your audience will make up the other part, and that can be very dangerous, spreading fear and doubt spread.  Sometimes you will have to be perfectly fine to say “I don’t know” as well, sometimes you just don’t.

And the last rule Fearless Leaders follow is to be authentic – be yourself, don’t try to be someone you are not, people trust you, that’s why they are listening, trust yourself back.  We all have been at some meeting, dinner or event when we witnessed someone trying to be more of something than they were – trying to be funny, or highly energetic or solemn.  In those instances, the audience filters the message because they feel it is “off” and that “something is missing”.  Fearless Leaders develop a clear, transparent and authentic style that comforts and energizes their audience in the way the leader intended.

Achievers, high performers, and people who have read this far into a book like this one generally have the intelligence, IQ, to achieve their goals and be leaders. But Fearless Leaders, develop the far more important aspect of intelligence known as EQ – EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.

The first aspect of EQ is possessing self-awareness.  Understand what launches your emotional triggers with feelings of excitement, anxiety, energy, lack of energy, satisfaction, unfulfillment, happiness, sadness and even anger. Stop for a minute and pick five of these nine feelings and write them down on a piece of paper.  Now, think of a few things in life that trigger those feelings.  Just by doing this exercise, you are becoming more self-aware.  Some people believe EQ is age related, but I totally disagree.  I think EQ is totally dependent on how in touch you are with yourself.  However, as we all age, we should recognize traits in ourselves more, but the key word is should.

The second aspect of EQ is self-management: the ability to intelligently handle your emotions when they trigger.  Now reflect on an instance when someone made you upset, angry, or unfulfilled.  How did you handle that situation?  Were you able to process it successfully and have a productive day or did it eat you up inside until you told the other person?

A notable attribute of a Fearless Leader is self-awareness.  Therefore, understanding your triggers, and developing coping or handling mechanisms is vital, especially to leadership.  For me, I know there are days, or meetings or specific people that are going to get at me, and I focus on how I can rise up and not let them or the situation get the better of me.  I repeat two things to myself when I am entering a “hot-zone”:

  1. “Small things amuse small minds, so – just let it go and be the bigger person.”
  2. “The only way they can win is if you let them. So, win the day!”

Now I can’t tell you I am always the bigger person or that I always win the day, but I can tell you I try like heck!

The third aspect of EQ is understanding other people’s emotions, triggers, reactions, and interactions. Fearless Leaders possess high EQ and are able to channel their emotions in a healthy way to positively impact their friends, family, colleagues and community.  This is simply how you trigger someone else, and how you can best avoid those situations for healthy relationships. EQ is perhaps the toughest of the eight attributes in b IMPACTFUL to develop, but it is also one that will get you the farthest in your life.  In fearful moments, when doubt and uncertainty come onto the landscape, your EQ will be the lifeline others depend on, the voice they listen to, the rock they cling to, and the Fearless Leader they follow.

Setting GOALS that people understand, have the ability to execute and align on the actions is a valuable attribute of Fearless Leaders.  In fact, achieving goals is really the difference maker between high performance and average performance.  Goal alignment and attainment is what separates Fearless Leadership from other forms of transformational theories. Fearless Leaders spend tireless hours aligning the actions from each goal to the ultimate vision and have the IQ and EQ to make this happen.  It might seem easy, but it’s not.  It takes intense communications, tremendous influence, relentless productivity, and transparent relationships. Top performers in any profession or walk of life get to be the top by fundamentally outperforming their peer group.  If they are a runner, they run faster; if they are a cleaner, they clean better; if they are a leader, they lead better; if they are a salesperson, they sell more.  Top performers and their teams enjoy quite a few benefits based on their results and study after study has quantified these, I thought I would share my favorite five:

  1. Rate job satisfaction 10% higher than peer group
  2. Connect with 2 times as many relationships within their networks
  3. Enjoy personal hobbies 25% more often
  4. Make 30% more money than their peer group
  5. Retire three years earlier as well

Top performers must also understand situational awareness as they strive for great results.  Situational awareness is all about knowing when to hit the accelerator, tap the brakes, idle in neutral, or to put the team in park and reorganize to align actions to goals and ultimately to your vision. As driven people, and if you have read this far you are certainly driven, it is important to be careful about driving too hard all the time.  This is why EQ is so important, we have to recognize the human side of performance not just the task attributes of it. Life and business are full of forks in roads, twists, turns, ups and downs, and as Fearless Leaders we must understand how our friends, family, colleagues, and community are aligned so as to know how to ultimately drive forward to achieve the goals we have set for our teams so that everyone has the opportunity to Enjoy the JOURNEY

INFLUENCING the thoughts and actions of others can undoubtedly be labeled a necessary attribute to becoming a Fearless Leader. We have all witnessed people who have the ability to influence others to do things beyond what they would normally do – both good and bad things. There is a lot of science and art to influence, and people have been influenced by others since Adam & Eve.  So, what makes one person more influential than another?  What makes people listen to a particular voice or opinion over another’s? Let’s outline three key things you can do to build your influence over others.

First, practice inquiry over advocacy. The art of inquiry is to ask others their thoughts, opinions and feelings.  When you ask others first, they tend to be more open-minded to listening to your thoughts. Open-minded people are much more influenceable than close-minded.

Second, listen attentively.  Most people hear very well but listen poorly.  There is a real difference.  If you can become a good listener, you will be in the best position to influence others.  Becoming a good listener is not as easy as it may appear, it takes a lot of practice and you have to learn to quiet your mind while the other person speaks.  Too many of us are outlining our talking points in our head while the other person is talking.

Once you have inquired vs advocated, listened in place of hearing, you are now prepared to launch into influencing with clarity.  The clearer you are, the more influence you will command. Mount a complicated and complex argument talking in circles, and people won’t know how to follow you.  Outline a clear path to achieving a goal, that uses the information you learned from asking questions and listening and your influence increases by over 75% – that is the science part.

Each of the attributes we have outlined – vision, brand, relationships, communication, emotional intelligence, and goals play a role in establishing your influence across your family, friends, colleagues, and community. If you have a vision other people can believe in, they will be influenced. If you build and nurture relationships, people will follow. If your brand is solid as a rock for others to rely on, then your influential sphere will grow. If you are able to read your audience and communicate with them on their wavelength, then your influence will accelerate. If you possess EQ, you will be aware of the situation, your emotions, and that of those around you.  And if you are clear in your goals that lead to actions that lead to a bigger purpose – a vision – then people will be influenced and in turn influence others to follow your Fearless Leadership.