Updated: Oct 15, 2019
The quality of our intentions influences the quality of our leadership endeavors. And, our leadership abilities are about influence. And, influence is made up of three elements; connect, collaborate and contribute towards a better world.
In the Sierra Madre Mountains flourish an ancient tribe of Filipinos known as the Dumagats. In 2010, a bunch of college students decided to do a thesis on the Dumagats even though they were warned that the Dumagats do not like intrusions. The students were adamant and they had good intentions. They bought a bunch of cheap cameras like the one that used the 24 shot films. They took some of these cameras to a tribe and enrolled the Dumagats to take their own pictures. After showing them how to use the cameras they left them there and went back a Sunday later and swapped the used film roll for new ones. The following Sunday they went back with the developed pictures and again swapped new film for the used ones. They continued to do this until such time the tribal people got used to the ritual and began to eagerly wait for these students every Sunday. And every Sunday after a meal cooked by the river they began to talk, as they looked at their pictures.
Their stories were about deeper beliefs, their heritage and how they considered the flowing waters to be an extension of themselves. The students, over a matter of months, gathered not just large bounty of data but a treasure trove of knowledge from the people who lived by the rivers.
Connecting with people to gently and subtly make caring differences in the lives, requires that we meet them in the place they are at. It requires that we respect their beings and then align with what they value and what they aspire towards. When the recipients of our care recognize that our agendas are all about their welfare, then they gently turn towards us, offer their trust and productive work begins. Contribution, in comparison to connection makes up for the other of the rainbow.
Recently I was coaching a very senior executive of a milk products company and he shared a story. A year ago, one batch of their production of milk did not meet the quality standards. The batch in question was worth three million dollars. In a harrowing meeting about the situation with his quality people, the production people and the research department all agreed that if the batch was sent back and run through production one more time it could be fixed. They talked through the details for days and then finally agreed to sleep over the decision for one more night. The next morning, back at the table, the executive announced that he had made up his mind to dump the whole batch. He did not like staining their brand and sending to market anything with the chance of being harmful to their consumers. One of the managers came up to the executive and complimented him on the decision. They were thankful as to how, he had boosted not just the company brand but also their faith in the business. Contribution is most powerful when it raises the spirits, the hopes and the values of others. That the dance of contribution and connection in leadership. Where does collaboration fit in you ask? All collaborative activities make up for the journey between connection and contribution. When we connect with people at their most human state and they trust us and together we work towards an ethical end then every move we make to grow is collaborative.
Get this and then go influence your organizations to a better place and to better times. Connect, collaborate and contribute with and for humanity and you become a true leader.