The path of leadership By Panos Panagou

The following article is written mainly for small and medium size business leaders and entrepreneurs, but not only. The ideas discussed here are universal and timeless and can be used by the experienced CEO or the individual trying to take charge of their life.

Your vision creates your reality

What you see with your mind’s eye is what you will get in real life. Our brain is a squashy piece of organic matter that has always lived in the dark. It only makes sense of the world by decoding and evaluating whatever messages come through our sensory organs and by comparing them with millions of similar messages from the past, in our mental archives. Using this information our brain constantly constructs images that we call “our reality”. Also, in its effort to protect us from upcoming dangers, a part of our brain, called the subconscious, creates pictures of imaginary future realities so that we can better prepare for all eventualities. These pictures form our view of the future.
If this view does not inspire us we may want to do something to change it.
And how can we practically do this, you may ask.
Answer: By adopting a strategy of continuous multi-level development that will include ..

  • Building a Leadership Mindset
  • Deciding to improve our Body Fitness
  • Upgrading our Multi-Level Communication
  • Creating Empowering Relationships
  • Following a path of Continuous Education

That’s it. And, as my accountant says, it is not easy but it is straight forward.

And so, as we constantly improve our daily practises, and develop empowering habits, we will be providing our mind with new material to construct a more compelling vision of our future to come.
Once our new inspiring vision is there, it will be much easier for us to start working to materialise it.

Fit for Leadership

Achieving and maintaining a maximum level of fitness is essential for Inspirational Leadership.
As I have repeatedly found out in the past, adopting an Athlete’s Mentality is the No 1 attitude in this case.
I am almost sure that you could mention a few famous and successful Leaders, in a number of industries, that are not exactly ” athletic”. But .. if you start methodically studying the biographies and lifestyles of the super successful you will inevitably find that the vast majority have very disciplined life-styles and follow strict fitness regimes.
So, what does Athletic Mentality mean? It means that, as an Athlete, your training comes first. You don’t have to think about it. You know it and you do it. And, .. everybody around you, get your message very clearly and would not dream of distracting you from it! That’s it! And, of course, you can also work, have relationships, and lead a “normal life”. But, you know your priorities!
Isn’t this a bit exaggerated? .. you may ask. Maybe it is. My point is this: As a Leader ( or even just as a human being), if you do not make your Physical Fitness your “No1Thing”, you will find it in front of you as an obstacle, further down the line!
So, why is Maximum Physical Fitness essential for a Leader? Here are some of my favourite reasons:

  • Our ancient animal instincts still dominate our modern Human Experience. That is why most people will respond favourably to the strong, confident, calm posture of the Alpha Male/Female Leader!
  • You 4X your energy reserves. You keep going when others have already given up.
  • High levels of fitness almost eliminate imaginary fears, and diminish Anxiety and Stress.
  • An Athletic, healthy Body is the ideal vessel for a clear sharp Mind.
  • You 4X your Communication skills. Your calm, strong presence is the No1 message, that inspires trust and attracts your empowered audience.

Communication builds Relationships

We, human beings, are a huge vault of information. From our time in the womb we start collecting countless bits of data and recording them in our brain. This is a process that will last all of our lives, and that we cannot consciously control. What we can do, as we grow older and wiser, is learn how to manage this potentially valuable treasure. Not all this information is equally valuable of course. We can train our mental “search engine” to access whatever is useful and use it to achieve what we want in life. It is often a fascinating journey, going through our internal archives. If we manage to develop a daily practise of introspection, we may come across the more interesting parts, the little treasures, that make up our internal experience. As we do this, I believe it is part of our nature to want to share these interesting aspects of ourselves with others. This is called Meaningful Communication.
The nature of the information we will choose to share, combined with our communication skills, will help us connect to other people and built relationships.
The quality and competence of all this process will be reflected in the kind of relationships that we will build throughout our lives.
Conclusion: Of course, looks, talents, status, culture do count, but if we want to build harmonious, mutually rewarding relationships in our lives we need to keep practising introspection an improving our communication skills.

Developing your people

I strongly believe that in the heart of leadership is the well-being of the team members and their strategic multifaceted development. The leader who starts with this end in mind will deliver maximum results.
To achieve this, we could among other things:

  • Aim to constantly improve the working conditions within work premises / offices.
  • Cultivate systematic encouragement and provide regular support for employee continuous professional and personal development.
  • Make training, coaching, mentoring, available at every level in the workforce.
  • Provide fair wages and other benefits, in a climate of equal opportunities for all.
  • Set up open communication channels and practises, to facilitate employee involvement and contribution, and to swiftly resolve disputes and eliminate points of friction.

Here are some of the benefits that these strategies can bring to an organization:

  • Trust in the face of the leader as someone who appreciates their people and does not only think of productivity, profitability, and the well-being of the company.
  • Increased company loyalty. Sense of pride and self-worth. Staying longer with the company.
  • Increased productivity. Working with the benefit of the company in mind.
  • Employees becoming unofficial brand ambassadors.
  • Team members consciously and actively supporting the leader’s role.

Leadership Integrity

Your life is your message. If you do what you say you will, if you follow with your actions what you ask others to do, people would trust you, will share your vision, will follow your instructions, and will support you along the way.
This is Leading by Example.
If you live with integrity, your self-confidence and your overall effectiveness as a leader in your industry, and as a person in your private life, will keep growing.
If you don’t “practise what you teach” this will undermine whatever you do in life. It does not really matter what your project is, oh how good you are. There is something instinctive in the way we react to people that are incongruent. We don’t trust people that give out conflicting messages with their words, their actions, their life choices. Our animal instincts often find this kind of incongruent behaviour somehow disconcerting.
Conclusion: As leaders we regularly have to check our moral compass, the clarity of our vision, and our overall intentions. We also have to be aware of the various messages we give out to our teams and to the world. We need to encourage and welcome feedback and even criticism for our actions. We need to ask our associates and our core team to be brutally honest with us.. about us. And we must be willing to gratefully take it all in and improve whatever needs improvement.