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I stumbled across this quote from leadership guru, John C. Maxwell today,

If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it.

We live in a world where it’s easy to criticise and find fault.

To yell from the cheap seats.

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Donkeys, like many people, are stubborn creatures.

If you try to push them, they won’t move.

If you try to pull them, they won’t move.

Even if you hit them with a stick, if they have put their mind to it, they still won’t move.

You can’t force them to move, but you can entice them.

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As a leader, there will often be a range of messages that you need to deliver every day.

“Do this.”

“Do that.”

“Make this your priority.”

“You made a mistake here.”

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In a recent interview, long-time Miami Heat forward, Udonis Haslem was asked about the culture of the organisation and he responded,

It’s one thing to have a coach give the message and do the things that coaches do. But it’s different to have someone in the locker room that’s a living, breathing example of the culture that you want to transfer to those guys, that you want to impart upon them.

There’s no doubt that Udonis is a great leader.

He has contributed to 3 NBA titles during his tenure with the Heat and his pre-game speeches are iconic and inspiring.

And the above quote explains why he is so influential within that franchise.

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You can stand up in front of your people and make grandiose statements.

You can put fancy slogans on the walls.

You can read books about culture and give them to all of your leaders.

You can have surveys and focus groups.

But culture isn’t formed that way.

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According to French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, & give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast & endless sea.” 

If you’re a leader, how do you get things done?

Do you just give orders?

Do you tell people what to do?

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Teams aren’t responsible for maintaining a positive mindset during challenging times, leaders are.

Teams aren’t responsible for creating a culture of continuous improvement, leaders are.

Teams can’t set a vision and then consistently maintain focus on that vision, only leaders can do that.

There’s no such thing as a bad military unit.

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If you’re a leader, you can’t just make your staff do what you want them to do.

You can’t force them to be successful.

You can’t rant and rave your way to better outcomes.

Constant manipulation and coercion will get you nowhere.

You have to lead them.

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In the week leading up to the 2019 AFL Grand Final, Richmond captain Trent Cotchin said,

“For me, it’s not about holding the cup up for a second time and so forth, it’s about creating a culture that will live beyond my time at the footy club and the other players who have been such a big part of that.”

He gets it.

He understands leadership.

It’s about creating a legacy.

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If you’re a leader, don’t fixate on results and numbers.

Find a way to win the hearts and minds of your staff.

Show that you genuinely care about them (and their families and their cats).

Put the spotlight on their successes and celebrate their wins.

Be passionate about their careers and personal development.

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