The Heart Of Leadership - Linda Avery and Connie Dugan
You decided at some point in your life to involve yourself in Network Marketing. Has it been a picnic? Has it been a blast? Are your dreams fulfilled? Did you make it happen? Yes, yes, yes, and yes, and no, no, no, and no. What an industry! There's nothing quite like it for the average person, because here lies the opportunity to change your life in countless ways.
Your ultimate success (or lack thereof) can be summed up in one word: leadership. In Network Marketing, we often hear expressions that elevate the position of leadership: "Look up to your leaders!" Up? Up where? Are leaders up in the clouds? Are they perched on the very tip top of your genealogy, way, way up above you? Leadership is not just something out there nor up there nor over there. Leadership is in the heart of every distributor.
Leadership is one of the most respected and intimidating words in Network Marketing. Distributors admire leaders, perhaps would like to become leaders, or at very least, to stand next to one for a photograph -- the one you are to add to your "treasure map" for inspiration.
As long as you consider leadership something that other people do -- not you -- and as long as articles and books present leadership as a set of skills and concepts that describe only industry giants, distributors like you may well feel distanced from leadership.
The old definition of leadership asserts that one person is at the helm to inspire, motivate, command, manage, and lead the organization. The old notion of leadership conjures up an image of a minority in charge of a majority of followers. We argue instead that the new century leader will encourage each person with whom they meaningfully interact to discover and utilize their own talents to contribute to their own successes. It's high time we stopped depending on an elite group to be in change of our destinies in this industry.
You are the leader on whom your business success depends. Yes, you. And you can access the leadership within you because the seeds of leadership are already there. Leadership comes from your heart.
What should all this mean to you?
You can recognize "out there" only what is already in you. You become, in a sense, your own frame of reference. Qualities that you admire in others are qualities that you have, in some measure, within yourself. As you begin to note the qualities you admire in the people who influence and mentor you, realize that those qualities are developing in you, too. It needs to be a conscious effort on your part to access those attributes in yourself and develop them as you inspire and influence others.
We looked at our mentors and leaders over the past decade to discover which key elements of leadership most often showed up. For us, these qualities of leadership became internalized as we built successful business organizations. We believe they can serve you equally well. These seven concepts are at The Heart of Leadership:
1. You tell yourself and others the truth.
2. You partner with people.
3. You have a vision larger than yourself.
4. You are an expert.
5. You grow.
6. You take a stand.
7. You love.
1. You tell yourself and others the truth.
This is a broad field in which to play and work. Truth is about impeccability -- your word is impeccable. What you speak is the truth. You don't exaggerate and you don't hype. Selling yourself and your ideas does not require embellished facts and half truths. What you tell a prospect is what he or she will remember, and it will come back to you. An age-old poem reminds us:
Four things come not back:
The spoken word,
The sped arrow,
The neglected opportunity.
When you stand in the impeccability of truth, whether it is about your company's compensation plan, the possibility of residual income, or your ability to partner, you put yourself on a level playing field with your prospect. He or she will know who you are and what you are offering. Your prospect sizes you up from the very beginning. "Can I work with this person? Does this person have my best interests at heart? Am I just a cipher, or am I a business partner? Is this person looking to make money off me or will she actually contribute to my success?"
Too many people in Network Marketing have been "sold a bill of goods": "We will build your downline for you!" "This matrix is so simple, people just get put under you when they call the company!" This is self-defeating because what you want are players, people who will partner with you -- undertake the effort with you -- and build a large organization. You do not want or need people coming into your organization based on hype. They will not last. Neither will you.
Your truth-telling is your integrity. Integrity literally means "unable to be torn apart." What better foundation for your business than your integrity? Telling the truth keeps your business, your relationships, and your success intact.
Do you tell the truth about your business?
2. You partner with people.
You can partner with people when you know what they want and you know that your opportunity can provide that for them.
Partnering is essential, scary, and often misunderstood in Network Marketing. It is essential because the nature of this business is all about people. You cannot succeed alone. Impossible. It is scary because most people do not know how to partner and do not even understand the qualities of partnership. Much of what we have experienced in partnerships relates more to co-dependence and dysfunction. You, no doubt, have experienced this already in your business organization.
From the top of our political structure to schools to parenting to marriage, partnerships struggle and fail. We are not a society that enjoys asking for help. We like to go it alone. The Jane and John Wayne types are our heroes. The dilemma seems to be that we need partnerships but do not know how to create them. The first step is listening -- the most important element in any good partnership or relationship.
Listening is your act of generosity to the world. When you listen, you "hear" the other person and he or she may have a life-changing experience as a result. Linda shares about her first adult experience with being heard: "It was so profound, I still recall every detail. I had the privilege of working with a now nationally-known coach, who, when he first `listened' me, woke me up! Someone actually cared about not only every word I was saying, but how I was saying it. He asked for clarification to make sure both he and I knew what I was talking about. He made connections for me from what he heard me say. I went on to work with him and his partners for a number of years and it has made an enormous difference in my life."
Listen like you've never listened before. People are starving to be heard. Listening is not a marketing ploy, but a relationship builder. The more you listen, the more you learn about what is "missing" in other people's lives. Sure, you have things missing in your life, too. No one will argue that. By listening to others you create conversations for possibilities -- not only for your prospect, but for yourself as well.
Do not make assumptions about anything. Although you may have gotten into Network Marketing because you seek financial freedom, your prospect may already have plenty of money and security but not many friends or enough fun in life. Listen for values expressed "in between" the lines of speech. What you want is not important to the other person. Rather, make what he or she wants very important to you. You can partner with people when you know what they want and you know that your opportunity can provide that for them. (Remember to tell the truth about the opportunity!) Anything else is you running your own agenda. It is running over people with what you think is important. What people need is a good listening to.
Are you a good listener?
3. You have a vision larger than yourself.
You cannot lead people if you are not being led by your own vision into the future. Ironically, the vision is within, yet it is often taught that vision is something outside the self, in the future, and most certainly not about now.
What is a vision and how can it be bigger than yourself? Call it Destiny. Call it Desire. Call it Commitment. Vision is energy -- energy that is getting you up in the morning and carrying you through the day. Your vision could be a simple statement as one person expressed: "I get up every morning knowing I can change the world by being kind to everyone I meet." Sometimes visions are more elaborate: "My vision is to create leaders who can change the world through their integrity." That's a larger-sounding one, but the vision is the same: change the world for the better.
A vision larger than yourself is the legacy you want to leave for the world. A favorite quotation of ours comes from the book Leadership is an Art by Max de Pree: "Leadership comes with a lot of debts to the future." We have all heard the quotation about the man on his deathbed who most assuredly is not wishing he had spent more time at the office. What might you wish for? More time perfecting your long drive on the golf course? More jewelry in the safe deposit box? The latest model car? A bigger house?
It's more likely that most of you will want to have made a difference. Surveys show that people want to do meaningful work, and they want to know what they are doing matters in the short term and in the long run of life. Mother Teresa spoke her vision this way: "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." She did what she did best and believed it was her destiny to make a contribution.
Here's an example of a vision that is not larger than self: "I get up every morning knowing that today I am going to score in the stock market!" This vision is about self doing something for self. Want to follow him? Yes, if you also want to score big in the stock market. But what is beyond that? What is the money about? Or the prestige? These are fine goals, but they are not the visions of leaders. Leaders have larger visions. They want to make a difference.
Everyday leaders like you live each day on their path towards their vision. You are the tip of a vast iceberg. You show up for people in a way that says you are up to something big. You don't flaunt it. You are purely on purpose and you show it. Purpose and vision give a depth of character that few people can resist. You are in momentum, and people want to come along with you. You never have to push people because they are moving into your sphere of energy and purpose. It's not about striving. The iceberg is not striving. It simply is. What we see is only a tiny part of what is really going on. It is on a journey, an almost invisible journey, that is inexorable and full of destiny -- just like you -- and woe be unto anyone who gets in your way. Be a contribution. Make your life matter.
Do you want to make a difference?
4. You are an expert.
Recently on morning television, a nationally-known business consultant provided three tips for success. One of them was to become an expert. What exactly does this mean? Oh no, you might be saying: no more school, no more seminars, no more night classes. What the business expert meant was that each of us needs to be essential in some way to our company or to our partnerships. Linda recalls, "Early on in my business-building days, I attended city-wide women's business seminars. Designed for networking, these seminars attracted a wide variety of women from all types of employment. Even though the breakfast format allowed us to interact with 12 other business people, the real networking went on before the meeting actually started. I determined to get to the banquet room early each time and meet and greet women as they came in. I acted as if I were the hostess and consequently made many contacts and many of the participants thought I was the leader of the seminar. I became an expert greeter! It's really as simple as that."
Do your company a great favor, for example, by becoming an expert on the compensation plan, and you may be asked to present this at a local or national company seminar. Learn to be an expert at developing marketing plans around your company's product lines. Become a nutrition expert. Study all you can about air purification, or group benefits plans, or at-home-business office set-ups or tax tips. You name it. When you speak from your expertise, you make the lives of other people richer. You contribute to your success by educating your downline and by supporting your company.
How do you express your expertise?
5. You grow.
Many people feel that the ultimate product of Network Marketing is personal development. Industry greats have promoted personal development to their leaders for years. Richard Brooke, one of our mentors, always taught: "Your organization will grow to the degree that you grow." We took him seriously. You can do this, too, by continuing to enrich your mind through reading. Leaders read and readers lead! Listen to audiotapes designed to help you build a business, create a vision, and become acquainted with your "unstoppable" self. Keep in mind that this is not about you not being "enough" or needing to be "fixed." Remember, your leadership qualities are already inside you. The famous British poet Robert Browning articulates this beautifully: "My business is not to remake myself, but to make the absolute best of what God made."
Here are just a few arenas of growth that you will want to consider: abundance thinking, being authentic, taking responsibility, loyalty, intimacy, public speaking, personal appearance, listening for values, honoring your values and those of others, learning to acknowledge other leaders, the art of conversation, physical health -- you make your own list. Like Benjamin Franklin, who determined to improve himself by identifying virtues and incorporating them into his life in a regimented way, you too can stay in research and growth in areas of your own life that need enhancing. Wherever you apply yourself, you will succeed.
Are you growing every day?
6. You take a stand.
What you and I will be remembered for is how we were in life, rather than what we did.
Why, you may ask, is this so important? Leadership requires that you stand up for what you believe. Sometimes this may not be popular with the majority or it may put you at risk in relationships, but we must be more committed to the betterment of the organization than to being liked by the majority.
Taking a stand is difficult in our culture. We are asked not to express anger, but we mustn't repress it either. We are encouraged to be visionaries, but told to be realistic. Conflict shows up in business and in relationships, too often becoming the focus of our energies and attention in place of the tools to solve it. Take a stand that you see conflict as a path to resolution. Take a stand that problems are opportunities. See negativity in others as an opportunity to focus on the positive.
You have the opportunity to control your response, even if you do not have the ability to control events. Your company changed its compensation plan and you got hurt? Talk to the corporate officers and get their point of view. Take a stand so that you can be the voice of empowerment in your organization, and for your entire company as you train the troops on the new comp plan. Your products and those of your downline are consistently late or mis-delivered? Take a stand to get the problem handled, not through complaining, but through action. Be the source of solutions, resolutions, and empowerment. Become known for your ability to resolve. Anyone can see problems; leaders create resolutions.
Stand in your own magnificence. Let it be known that you will partner and train your downline. Do not become a doormat for your organization. Even mother birds know when to urge their offspring from the nest. If she did not "kick" them out of the nest, they would never learn to fly! Maybe it sounds like "tough love" at times, but your distributors need the space to find their own leadership qualities. Leaders take a stand for their magnificence, and they give other people space to grow. Leaders owe people the space to be free. In the free space between us, we can exchange ideas and experience creativity, openness, dignity, reverence, and hope.
Are you taking a stand for your leadership and for the leadership abilities of others?
7. You love.
It's true -- leaders love. What you and I will be remembered for is how we were in life, rather than what we did. Our relationships with people are the legacies we leave. When you are known in your Network Marketing business for your truth-telling, your ability to create empowering relationships, your vision, and your commitment to yourself and to others, you are being recognized for your ability to love.
Leaders are grateful that they have people to lead, and you'll find that your leadership qualities will develop as you bring more and more people into your organization. Remember, you cannot do this alone. "Years ago as a high school teacher," Linda remembers, "I took groups of students to Europe during the summer vacations. It was difficult to lead large groups, and it required great vigilance, especially keeping track of 80 teenagers! One of the funniest things I remember about group tours was a man holding a large sign above his head that said: Where Is My Group? I Am Their Leader."
Do you know who your group is? Is your group aware that you are the leader? What do you need to put in place to solidify the relationship between you and your downline? In this business you need to fall in love with five things: Network Marketing, your own company, your products, your company's compensation plan, and finally, yourself. When you are in Network Marketing, this is what your life is about.
Recently Connie had the privilege of visiting a 90-year-old woman who was preparing to die. Leonora was nearly blind and deaf, so Connie needed to sit close to her face to hear her words of wisdom. Connie asked her to share the greatest insight she had learned on earth. Leonora giggled and said, "You all think life is so serious and every crossroad has so much meaning. Truth is, everything is important, but not much really matters. What I do know for sure is that there is a great market for love out there. Just give and receive love and your life will be fulfilled."
Connie remembers one of her mentors, Randy Anderson, saying years ago that you will meet more people in your years in Network Marketing than most people would meet in ten lifetimes. Just think about the loving impact you can have on the lives of thousands of people!
Are you sharing love?
Leadership qualities are already inside you. Discover your own special gifts, exercise them, and share them generously. Feel proud of what you have to offer because, after all, the world needs you. All it simply requires is a decision to stand apart from the followers and lead from your heart.
Linda Avery, MA, NC, & Connie Dugan have been with Oxyfresh Worldwide, Inc. for over ten years each. Both are certified coaches in Life Planning with the World Institute and have many years of experience as personal and business coaches both nationally and internationally. Linda and Connie recently launched a business together, The Heart of Business, providing business coaching for personal and corporate development, team building, life re-invention and renewal, life planning, public speaking, and vision creation.
In addition to her Network Marketing business, Linda is Director of Research and Development and Director of International Relations for a multi-million dollar international corporation. She is also a Regional Representative for the International Women's Writing Guild and is currently writing a non-fiction book on lifestyle enhancement and a novel based on her experiences in Southeast Asia. Linda lives in Spokane, WA.
As one of the top performing women in Oxyfresh, Connie sits on the Advisory Board of Oxyfresh Worldwide and is an internationally acclaimed field trainer who has been a keynote speaker across the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. She was also named "Woman of Distinction" in the Global Home-Based Business Directory. She lives in Hilton Head, SC.
For information about The Heart of Business coaching services, Linda can be reached at 800-999-9551, x708 and Connie at CRD28@aol.com.
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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Avery/Dugan Feature - February 2000, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com