Power of One

The Power of One: One Powerful Way to Influence the Organization

Is one really the loneliest number? Harry Nilsson may have gotten it right when it comes to writing a sad love song, but not when it comes to boldly influencing the organization. Power

What’s that? Are we saying that one person has the power to inspire the entire organization?  

Yes, we are. Here’s how. 

Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.”
— John C. Maxwell 

In an HBR article aptly called, “How One Person Can Change the Conscience of an Organization,” authors Nicholas W. Eyrich, Robert E. Quinn, and David P. Fessell assert that on the deepest level, we humans need to contribute to the greater good.  

And yes, obviously, one doesn’t need to read a top business journal to know that. After all this “every person for themself” business is exactly what has gotten this world into the mess it currently is.  

Thing is, though, not everyone sees that. Calling it out therefore seems important. 

Eyrich, Quinn and Fessell go on, “When a leader [at any level], skillfully brings a voice and a vision, others will follow and surprising things can happen—even culture change on a large scale.” 

The Far-Reaching Effects of “Just” One Leader Power

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

—Jack Welch 

The impact that “just” a single leader can have on others is staggering. It’s this focus on the good of the collective over that of the individual, in fact, that makes Bolder leaders so inspirational. It’s also why we’ve written so often on the importance of emphasizing the “we” – not the “me.”  

When we focus on self-seeking ends (like, unfortunately, some modern-day “leaders” (quotes here because we are generous by even naming them as such lol)), the results – as we all have experienced – are often tragic. Millions of displaced people, families torn apart, basic human rights stripped are among some of the disastrous consequences of large-scale self-will-run-riot. And the list of consequences to these consequences – chain reactions as it were – goes on and on. Self-centeredness thereby becomes a (poisonous) gift that keeps on giving. 

Yet there is another path we can take. When we leverage our role and practice conscious leadership by consciously choosing to live higher-level values and to inspire others to do the same, our positive influence ripples out, touching people in meaningful ways. Take, for example, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Less than one month after the country’s worst peacetime shooting, she introduced swift and sweeping gun law reforms, likely saving countless lives and the broken hearts of many others. The chain reaction her choice induced is incomparable to the one described above. 

And while, yes, both examples cited here may not be directly relevant to the average reader of this article, they nonetheless show how our role-modeling as individual leaders creates a chain reaction which can either help the world – or hinder it.  

The choice of how we show up, what we focus on and what we put out in the world is always ours. 

So, how can we effectively transform our leadership to inspire our teams, our organizations? It’s quite simple: start with conscious leadership. Think of this as a deep, continual process that ultimately brings the best of our inner selves out into the world of form, so that we can create the greatest impact as we inspire those around us. 

Sounds ideal, right? But how in the world do we go about implementing it?  

Below are some practical strategies.  

5 Strategies for Any Single Leader to Have a Lasting Impact: Power

1)  Put self-care first. Having grown up in a church which taught me that thinking of myself first was selfish, that old version of me may not even have included this particular tip here. However, several bouts of burnout and of pushing good people and opportunities away all because I wasn’t grounded in my best self have shown me otherwise: the better I take care of myself, the better I can be there for others.   

We can’t give what (as we say in parts of my home state Kentucky) we ain’t got. It really is as simple as that. True transformation starts within. We can only cultivate the mental soil needed to lead transformation by stepping away to take care of ourselves. This isn’t just a luxury – it is a requirement for every BOLDER leader. 

2) Use your privilege of being a leader wisely. This means supporting and lifting up those who may have less clout or visibility. While starting with Top Teams is most often our recommendation, transformation isn’t always a singular, “top down” process. Indeed, leaders at all levels can make a conscious choice to influence positive change. When we use our position of privilege to lift others up, we inspire an entire culture of inclusivity and growth.  

3) Infuse empathy into everyday interactions. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but more than ever, our world NEEDS empathy. In an age where the “new normal” feels anything but, we need to be patient and compassionate– with ourselves and others. When we approach others authentically to help them feel valued and understood, the organization as a whole benefits with improved teamwork, greater productivity, and a boost in morale. Moreover, by doing so, we also get to bring more meaning to our own lives and leadership.  With all the upheaval of today’s world, who wants to live without that? 

4) Be the executive…of your own brain. So often, we think of leadership as something external. Not so. By monitoring the impulses of our own minds, with practice we can get better at regulating our limiting reactions and choosing responses that will be more helpful to ourselves and others. Again, though, patience and compassion with ourselves are called for here: working through our triggers won’t happen overnight. But luckily, we’ll have lots of opportunities to practice as the inevitable, numerous challenges life throws our way 😉. After all, as we’ve said before, Bolder leadership is the perfect mix of art and science, of technique and practice. 

5) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yup, the unavoidable discomfort which comes with the constant change our world continually throws at us in one form or another. If the last few years have taught us anything (and if there is one thing we can all agree on…imagine that!) – it’s that change is everywhere nearly all the time 

Bolder, impactful leaders know that change is continual – and they welcome it as an opportunity for growth…even when it seems uncomfortable, frustrating, or downright painful. Embrace a change mindset – and watch how getting comfortable with discomfort can transform your leadership and life. And likely those of the people you influence as well. 

Finally, know this: no matter what things look like at this moment, we each have the power of choice. Be BOLDER today. Bolder choices lead to greater levels of impact and fulfillment through the rewards such moves promise. 

“Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities – the good ones – are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”
 —Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube 

How about upping your own conscious leadership through thought-provoking leadership moves that can inspire you to lead with greater impact? Sign up for my FREE weekly Bolder Moves messages here. They’re practical, always free, and delivered fresh to your inbox each week. 

Brain Rewiring: The Practical Way Anyone Can Become the Bolder Leader of Their Dreams

Brain Rewiring: The Practical Way Anyone Can Become the Bolder Leader of Their Dreams

“My brain is the key that sets me free.” – Harry Houdini

It may seem like magic, but it’s also true: the answer to great leadership may lie in rewiring our brain. This is how any one of us can become the leaders we always hoped we would be.

And it’s not hard to do.

It may take dedicated mental work, yes. But before you know it, you’ll be a witness to your own transformation:  what used to feel foreign and unattainable to you will now become part of your natural way of being and doing.

“By focusing on possibilities, you can see more than a potential light at the end of the tunnel. The light doesn’t have to be at the end of the tunnel; it can illuminate an opportunity wherever you are.”
― John B. Arden, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life

What We Resist Persists

In other words, whatever it is about ourselves that we’re not wild about as leaders or as humans (which, to us, is the exact same thing), it won’t go away by merely wishing it would.

If only! –  lol

Instead, if we really want to develop ourselves as leaders, we need to face reality: to become aware of those parts of us which are not helping our leadership vision and do something about it.

Take a moment of self-awareness to honestly evaluate your mindset and behavior as a leader.

Are there all-too-familiar areas that you know you could get better in, but push out of your mind, thinking that you’ll never overcome them?

And when (not if) these flaws present themselves in the workplace, you overreact, make excuses and bury what has happened?

We’ve all been there. But what point does that serve? It only reinforces the problem.

The old adage ‘whatever you resist – persists,’ is a valid one. Our brains simply follow the paths we’ve set for it throughout life – they’ve become familiar to it.

So instead of pausing to consider the situation, we instantly react,

like the record that automatically drops down in an old jukebox.

Until we choose a new “record” for the old jukebox, that is. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is oh-so-worth-it!

Science proves you can change the messages you’ve been sending your brain.

How? It’s simple.

All that’s required is a three-step process which we have already delved into in recent articles:

  1. Become aware of what you want to stand for as a leader and, importantly, .
  2. Make a choice to work with the intention of having that vision become a reality.
  3. Commit to a daily practice in small yet consistent ways.

Yes, we can all definitely teach the old dog of our brain new tricks!

Create Certainty in Your Leadership

And this is mostly thanks to neuroplasticity.

In layman’s terms:

Neuroplasticity is the ability of our nervous system to change its connections and structures.

Neuroscientists have long understood this fascinating phenomenon. When we incorporate a little neuroscience into our leadership, it can literally transform our whole lives. It means people can actually change the structure of their brains and form new pathways to teach the brain a new habit.

So those old thought patterns that aren’t serving us any longer? They can be overwritten. Each one of us can rewire our brain to become a more BOLDly impactful leader, and to enjoy a more deeply fulfilling life.

And speaking of BOLDER leadership…Isn’t that exactly what our world needs today?

“The brain is a muscle that can move the world.” – Stephen King

Writing in Inc., Geoffrey James notes that leadership isn’t about the carrot and stick principle (combining rewards and punishment to elicit a desired behavior).

Leadership is about creating a feeling of certainty in those you lead.

Since we mimic the behaviors we see in others, the goal is to create certainty in ourselves first.

As James writes, that’s exactly why successful leaders always appear so self-confident. They’ve created their own sense of security that affects everyone around.

Applying Neuroplasticity in the Workplace

True leadership is one of the toughest skills to find in employees, according to a Global Workforce Leadership survey.

Sometimes we’re unaware of what is holding us back. The answer might lie in our reptilian brain.

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.– Albert Einstein

Our ‘lizard brain” oftentimes stands as a roadblock to greater leadership: when our fight or flight reactions sets in, it stays with us. Our minds reflect back to past and future threats – and we end up in fits of anger, frustration and fear.

And each day, repeated triggering of limiting thoughts etches grooves in the mind – which become deeper. The result is more negativity, panic and self-criticism, in a seemingly endless cycle. Sound familiar?

So how do we avoid this continual, negative playback?

In addition to the three steps mentioned above – Awareness, Choice and Practice – we can cultivate daily practices which help raise our own feel-good level.

Step back and create space. Take time to be apart, engaging in enjoyable activities.

Whether it’s quiet time or a gentle practice like writing in a diary, science has proven that when we experience trust, joy or excitement, our brain cells soften and new, healthier pathways are created.

The practice of mindfulness helps create a space between us – and the chaos of the outside world.

By taking the time and creating the space to foster our own higher-level thinking, we are cultivating trust, joy and excitement in ourselves. And these, in turn, are absorbed by those in the workplace. Employees feel our calm confidence – and this helps to motivate and empower others.

Isn’t it amazing how even a small amount of mental work can transform our leadership from average into extraordinary?

Rewire your brain week after week, when you sign up for our free Weekly Bolder Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each Tuesday. Get practical tips and easy-to-implement strategies to step into the best Bolder version of YOU – in leadership & in life.