Life is too short to be little. – Benjamin Disraeli
The late Fred Rogers, speaking at his acceptance speech into the Television Hall of Fame, gave a speech that I believe typifies what leadership is truly about. Rogers says, “Fame is a four-letter word: and like tape or zoom or face or pain or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.
I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn’t matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen – day and night!
The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television.” Rogers’s perspective on what is truly important may seem like a throw-back in time, but the message is timeless.
Rogers added, “Who in your life has been a servant to you…who has helped you love the good that grows within you? No matter where they are-either here or in heaven-imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now. We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”
As defined by John Maxwell, leadership is influence. And with the influence you have as a leader, you will add value to the lives of others by your leadership style or it will be characterized by missed opportunities. How you see yourself will determine the direction you travel.
Italo Magni said, “If you’re talking with your head, you’re going to speak to their heads. If you’re talking with your heart, you’re going to reach their hearts. If you talk with your life, you’re going to reach their lives.” So here is the question: on which level do you want to lead? Discover these simple secrets and understand the most effective way to lead.
When you lead with your head you can help. There is certainly an advantage to leading from a position of knowledge. To be sure, it lends credibility when you lead and speak with understanding and from experience. But leading with your head can only take you so far.
Howard Hendricks said, “You can impress people at a distance, but you can impact them only up close.” You can draw a person in with your knowledge but if you want to keep them there and truly make a difference there has to be more.
When you lead with your heart you can make a difference. When you lead on this level you have taken a giant step in expanding your influence. When you lead with your head you earn respect because of what you know; but when you lead with your heart, you earn a following because of who you are.
Malcolm Forbes said, “At the heart of any good business is a chief executive officer with one.” Leading from the heart provides the emotional intelligence that you need to integrate head knowledge into a plan of action that can easily be embraced. Until you connect with the heart you will never get to the life changing encounters that come from leading with your life.
When you lead with your life you change the world. Leading with your life is the most powerful form of leadership. This level of leadership embodies all that you know, all of your passions, and unites them into a life committed to adding value to others.
Fred Rogers also said, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” Stop and consider the relationships you have and how your influence is making a difference.
When you lead with your life your influence has no limits. What will be the measure of your leadership?
© 2013 Doug Dickerson
*This column was originally published in 2011.
If you enjoy reading Doug’s columns you will especially enjoy reading Doug’s books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted! Visit Doug’s website to order your copies today.
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