I once took part in a clean up effort for local water channels. I was told that we’d be pulling out debris and litter from shallow canals to help the water flow better. When our small group of 5 arrived at the canal – armed with nothing but latex gloves, poker sticks, and hefty bags – the methane-fart smell of the polluted waterway told us this would not be a walk in the park. However, one of the quieter people in our group that we didn’t know changed all that. He put on his knee-high rubber galoshes and kitchen gloves and jumped right into the muck. He was pulling out condoms, tennis balls, fishing line, bags, and anything else that you can imagine. Before I knew it, another group member followed him in. And then another. And another. At this point, I had to step up and join in.
Leaders don’t talk about change – they lead it from the inside out. This opportunity might look like a conflict between a group of people you work with, a category of items that are very hard to sell and are avoided by most employees, or an intimidating change in a process that people are evading. Influential leaders ignore the intimidating or unpleasant nature of these tasks; instead they bite their lip and jump right in.
Want to be an influential leader? Put on your galoshes, jump into an undesirable scenario, and lead change from the inside out! Throw yourself into the fire!