Millennium Leadership for Networkers

By Doug Firebaugh

Doug Firebaugh

Doug Firebaugh

Welcome to the new millennium! You probably remember like I do how, 20 years ago, we thought of the year 2000 as some far off event in the distant space-age future. We romanced it for all it was worth, didn't we? Now, here we are -- the year 2000 has arrived, and with it come greater opportunities for Networkers around the world than ever before. What does the future hold for you?

To get an idea, take a moment, if you will, for this little "millennium quiz." Your answers will reveal where you are in your business and the likelihood that you'll achieve your vision for the future. What answers to the following questions come up for you?

1) What is going to be the driving force in your business this year?

2) What is going to be the catalyst for taking your business to the next level and beyond?

3) What is going to ignite a success inferno in your business and stoke it every week?

4) What is going to create a downline wildfire of growth in your business?

5) What is going to direct, navigate and guide you through the challenges that lie ahead this year?

These are tough questions and it may take a little time to ponder them. To save time, perhaps I can offer some assistance here -- the answer should be just one word, and one word only for all five questions. That word is going to be the defining factor in your ultimate success or lack of it. The answer is the kerosene that fuels a fire storm of success in your downline and your life if you let it. It is written on the walls of the successful distributors' hearts, branded in their minds, and reflected in their eyes. It is the catalyst for higher performance in anything, and can create more success in your business than you ever imagined. I know what I am talking about because it drove my Networking business for over ten years and those of all the successful people I know. It attracts success and wealth like a magnet on steroids, and contains all the secrets of creating wealth in this business. Anything that has been written about this business points to this enormous power in some way. It worked so well in the organization I was honored to be a part of that, and I've devoted my professional life, through PassionFire International, to taking the message to the industry worldwide. What is this answer, this message, I'm alluding to? Leadership -- true, pure, unbridled leadership -- the most powerful force in Network Marketing success.


  Truly, no amount of instruction, training, or teaching will ever equal the explosive success power of passionate leadership!
We have a saying at PassionFire: "Passion is the Secret Weapon to Success, and Leadership is the Secret Weapon to Network Marketing." When passion ignites, it can melt anything that gets in its way; passionate leadership is like an electric power station with focused, contained power that can explode anything it touches. That's the power that will create new millennium millionaires in this industry. Truly, no amount of instruction, training, or teaching will ever equal the explosive success power of passionate leadership! I know a lot of well-educated, well-intentioned folks who know the mechanics of this business -- all the right words, phrases and answers that sound great -- but are barely getting by. They have incredible potential, but lack the leadership focus and heart that their downline is starving for in their success journey.

Do you realize your people are looking for leadership? There is nothing sadder in this industry than when an organization that explodes with momentum eventually outgrows the distributor due to lack of leadership, and falls apart, piece by piece, day by day. This happens all the time! But it doesn't have to. In this new millennium, we can change that. To that end, I've changed my understanding of what MLM stands for -- for me, from now on it stands for: Millennium Leadership Momentum! For the Millennium, create Momentum with Leadership! All leaders know how important momentum is in this business -- especially for the new distributor! With passionate leadership, you can create that momentum in your group. The first step is understanding what leadership means in Network Marketing.

Defining Network Marketing Leadership

Leadership is a set of skills, strategies, attitudes, and beliefs that we engage consistently, daily, and fervently for everyone's benefit. To define it specifically for our industry:

Leadership in Network Marketing is boldly taking on the responsibilities and commitments of creating an empowering environment and a path to success that people willingly follow.

Go back and read that one more time and notice how it makes you feel. Are you that kind of leader? Are you doing that for others? Let's take a closer look at that definition... .

The first power word in the definition above is bold. Leaders in this business are willing to step up to the bat, see what has not been seen, think what has not been thought, say what has not been said, and do what has not been done. That is a vivid, technicolor "word picture" of Network Marketing leaders. They are bold in their thinking, their vision, their words, and their actions. At PassionFire we teach that BOLD stands for Bringing On Leadership Destiny! Boldness creates a destiny of success while timidity is like a cancer in this business. Leaders get out on the edge and stay there, empowering others to join them. Are there people who think you can't succeed? Do what you have not done before, think like you have never thought before, and accomplish what you `ve only dreamed before -- it takes bold leadership to show them what's possible in Network Marketing.

Next, note the word responsibility. Leaders understand the weight of responsibility, and do not shirk from it. They know that someone has to take action to make anything happen, and they accept that task willingly. They know what they are responsible for as well as what they are not. For example, leaders know that ultimately they are not responsible for their distributors' success. They are responsible for educating them to do this business, preparing them for the challenges that might arise, and supporting them along the way, but each distributor must engage and embrace their own success.

It's not unlike being a personal fitness trainer. The trainer can teach her clients how to lift weights, why to lift and when to lift, but they must do the lifting and the grunting. If she lifts the weights for them, she'll get the benefits, not them. They'll lose interest and say, "Weight lifting doesn't work!" -- sound familiar? Leaders strive to build permanent downlines always. They are willing to dig the pond, fill it with water, stock it with fish and teach you to fish, but the new distributor must cast the line.

The third power word in this definition of leadership is commitment. Commitment is the cement in the foundation of any successful organization. Committed leaders are magnetic, attracting people to them effortlessly. Why? Because leaders know that commitment is less something said or done than felt. It empowers anyone who comes in contact with them because they can feel it. We all know people in this industry who are sought after and respected, and almost without fail it is because of their unshakable commitment to success, to their people, and to Network Marketing. You will be forced in this business to do things you don't feel like doing at the time they need doing or with whom they are to be done, but know that it's your commitment in those times that will determine whether you are followed as a leader or eventually ignored.


  Put simply, leaders are creators - they create something where there was nothing before.
Next, consider the word create. If I had to choose only one word to define leadership, this would be it. Put simply, leaders are creators -- they create something where there was nothing before. They crystallize the future into a tapestry woven with the threads of dreams, belief, and action. Leaders create magnetic direction, powerful influence, hope, possibility, and environments for growth. Leaders have the extraordinary ability to see the invisible -- the art of vision. They take a thought, and by sharing it with others and asking their help, bring it into existence. They create compelling visions that people can believe in -- in Network Marketing, it's often that most important of beliefs which can change our lives for the better.  

I see change as a sister word of create. Leaders are change agents -- they create positive change in people's lives. They know that change must occur to increase or expand anything. Change creates new directions and perspectives which are what Network Marketing is all about. Are you starting to see that Network Marketing and leadership are blended so tightly, it's tough to tell them apart sometimes? Leaders don't just accept change, they embrace it for themselves and make it part of their message. The power of their approach is in the choice to embrace rather than accept.

The next vital part of this definition is the concept of an empowering environment. In the same way that our environment on earth determines what grows, what thrives, what lives, and what does none of these, so does the environment you create within your organization affect its growth, stagnation, mediocrity, or decline. It must encourage and foster hope and possibilities, not hype and impossibilities. It must empower people to maximize their strengths. What creates your leadership environment? Your words, your moods, your actions, your consistency, your expectations, your caring, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Is your environment full of sunshine or dark clouds? Is it full of belief or doubt? Maximum empowerment brings maximum growth.

Near the end of the definition is the term path to success. Leaders provide their people with a clear, engaging, step-by-step path to achievement of their goals. In fact, it's better to think of it not just as a path to success, but also as a part of success. By helping people develop a success awareness -- a mindset of focus and power and possibility from the start -- you give them a chance to succeed at every stage in the process. You do this by sharing tools and trainings with them and saturating the environment of your organization with expectancy and anticipation! Be out in front -- say "Come on! You can do it, and I'll show you the way. Few people take the time to celebrate small successes, the unintimidating actions or the seemingly insignificant tasks, but this is one of the most important things you can do for the growth of your organization. It is amazing how recognition and celebration of small victories produce opportunities for celebrating incredible victories.

The final noteworthy phrase above is willingly follow. Do your distributors trust your judgement implicitly? Is it worthy of their trust? Do they follow your lead and promote it to their organizations? New millennium leadership demands and will not settle for anything less than trust between upline and downline. One of the greatest secrets of leadership is that people will be drawn to someone who cares and has the strength to empower that emotion. People are compelled to follow strength, and I am not just talking about power, but presence with power -- and there is a difference. Lots of managers have power, and use it, but don't have presence. A strong presence is felt, not spoken, and people pick up on it immediately and follow. It works like a magnet in this business. A leader in this business is someone who is going places and taking excited people with her. You see, people have one question they'll never ask but are always seeking the answer for: Is this person strong enough to help me achieve what I want in life? This is what I call the "unspoken determinant," and if they assess that the answer is yes, get out your flute, because the Pied Piper has arrived on the scene! Strength in leadership comes from not being sold on the business, but sold out to it! You no longer are in the business, the business is in you! This creates a magnetic presence and personal credibility that people feel compelled to follow.

Together, these elements will create a leadership that can drive any business to the heights of success. It all starts with one word -- decision. Decision is your catalyst for the leadership you've just learned about, the fuse that ignites and creates that power within I call SuccessFire. Decision is the flame that ignites all success in leadership.

Another PassionFire proverb is "Choice determines Direction; Decision determines Destiny." There is only limited power in the word choice, because it is a selection that can be changed. Decision is a mindset, a "heart set" that is steadfast. Let me ask you a new millennium million-dollar question: Have you made a choice to try this business, or a decision to become successful in it? I urge you to lead yourself and your group into the new millennium ignited by the flame of decision -- decide to let the kerosene of leadership explode your business into an inferno!


  It is amazing how recognition and celebration of small victories produce opportunities for celebrating incredible victories.
This brings us to a vital aspect of your personal leadership quest. You must learn to lead you first, before you can lead others. The path to leadership success is built first with bricks of personal leadership, then with group leadership. How can people follow anyone who doesn't display and practice leadership in his own life? You can empower others to boldness, commitment, discipline, and presence only if you display these attributes in your own being. This is why I mentioned earlier how organizations can outgrow distributors -- it happens! Personal leadership comes from personal growth. If you have made a decision to become the best, and are doing the things necessary to engage success beyond your comfort level, you are displaying and building personal leadership. You don't have to be perfect to be a leader, because ongoing transformation is part of leadership. 

Understand this: There are two types of people in this business and two types only -- method people and results people. Method people choose the method they are willing to use and accept the results. Results people choose the results they want, and accept whatever method it takes to obtain them. If you are going to be a leader in the millennium, may I suggest you become a results person, and use whatever method it takes to achieve your dreams. That is total personal leadership -- the direct result of leading and moving yourself past all the limitations you harbor in your heart, and creating things in your life as never before. Leaders relentlessly prospect, approach, present, follow up, and sign up new people.

Work this business through the eyes of a leader, not just a distributor. There is huge difference! You'll find that the path to success becomes much more easily traveled through the eyes of leadership. I encourage you to engage in ongoing leadership development for six months -- face to face with a mentor, on a conference call, or in dedicated personal study of the wealth of resources available for the asking. I testify to the impact of this from experience -- you'll cut your attrition in half and your whole organization will feel the dramatic shift.

To help you begin your personal leadership development (and being a huge fan of the Bible), I offer you these Ten Commandments of Network Marketing Leadership. Begin to live by them today, teach them in your organization, and watch the results in your organization skyrocket!

The Ten Commandments of Network Marketing Leadership

1) Thou shalt make a decision to lead. There is nothing more powerful in this industry than a true decision to lead. I've seen it happen over and over again -- when this happens, people become magnetized to success. A "true decision" comes from the heart, not the mind; it's a decision so powerful that you can't imagine traveling another path.

2) Thou shalt have an ignited vision. Your vision needs to be more than just "on course" or "on track" -- it needs to be on fire! It needs to be crystal clear, powerful, and hot! As John Milton Fogg says, "A true leader either ignites people or melts them." You must have a vision that lights people up with hope, possibility, and change.

3) Thou shalt direct, guide, and navigate. As a leader, you must have a plan and a step-by-step path to success to offer people. You must navigate them through the challenges that will arise with your support, coaching, caring, guidance, and belief. Navigation requires knowing where you are, but also where you are headed and how to get there. Remember, the North Star of your organization is your leadership.

4) Thou shalt create influence through ethics integrity, and sincere caring. There is nothing more compelling in Network Marketing than a leader who cares more about his distributors' paychecks than his own. The influence these ethics create is enormous. As a leader, you will maintain the respect of your organization only by consistently acting with integrity -- make sure they can count on it. Leaders know that people don't follow what you say as much as who you are.

5) Thou shalt create an environment of hope, possibility, and expectancy. One of our most important jobs as leaders is to create an environment that encourages distributors to grow, hope and thrive. Most people rise to the level of their expectations, so raise the level of expectancy in your organization. Expect big things from people and help them build the confidence to expect it too.

6) Thou shalt empower everyone through belief, knowledge, and encouragement. Our greatest opportunity as leaders is the chance to empower people to change their lives through this business. The greatest way to empower is to believe in them. The four most powerful words in Network Marketing are: "I believe in you!" Be their biggest supporter by giving them the tool of knowledge and the encouragement to persist through the learning curve.

7) Thou shalt be out in front. Set an example worthy of close observation. You may never know it, but they are watching to see if you practice what you preach. They will quietly, even if unintentionally, duplicate what you do. By being out in front, you'll keep your distributors looking forward. The light of your example will lead others through the "new distributor fog" of doubt, frustration, and discouragement.

8) Thou shalt stand behind the spotlight. Too many distributors get leadership and celebrity confused. When a top earner becomes a company or industry celebrity, it can be to the detriment of their group. Leaders who build permanent downlines put the recognition spotlight on their people and stand behind it. Yes, leaders do have to be visible to inspire, but that power lies in recognizing and celebrating small success to build their distributors' confidence to do more. People will do more for recognition than money -- that's Leadership 101.

9) Thou shalt construct, not constrict. Leadership is a construction project. First, you build yourself and construct the skills, attitudes and habits you need to succeed in this business. Then you help your people in their own self-construction. Average distributors constrict their growth with a selfish focus; leaders construct with a selfless focus. The leadership paradox of Network Marketing is: Build yourself first, your downline second, and your business third, but all at the same time. If you are already approaching your business with that order of priority, you are on your way to building an empire.

10) Thou shalt build relationships, not just distributorships. What is the secret to building a million-dollar distributorship? Building a million-dollar relationship. Remember that it's easier to walk away from a business than a friend. Get to know the people in your organization for who they are, not for the paychecks you want. Get to know their dreams, what's important to them, what they value. Spend personal time with your leaders in their world and made it a part of yours. Always, always put their interests ahead of your own. That will create amazing loyalty which will create amazing motivation which will create amazing paychecks.

I encourage you in this new millennium to start engaging your business through the eyes of a leader, not just a distributor. If you discover how the journey of leadership will transform you in all aspects of your life, 2000 will be the year that limitations, barriers, and failures fall by the wayside -- you will be on a one-way track to all the success you've been envisioning. And that is what Network Marketing is supposed to be about -- unbridled, unstoppable success. The secret lies in your own leadership.

Doug Firebaugh is the President and CEO of PassionFire International, a Louisville, KY-based leadership training company for Network Marketers. He is also co-creator of the Leadership Inferno Award, recognizing Networkers who have shown distinctive leadership in their companies and in the industry at large. He has produced numerous training tapes, including Igniting Leadership Fire in Your Downline, How to Become a Recruiting Magnet, Biblical Recruiting Genius of Christ, and The Psychology of Recruiting, and in cooperation with Michael Clouse, has recently begun a monthly audio-subscription called Leaders on Fire, featuring interviews with Network Marketing leaders. PassionFire also offers two free ezines, and To nominate someone who's made a difference in your business, or to learn more about PassionFire, visit on the web or call 1-888-2PASSION.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Firebaugh Feature - January 2000, 888-UPLINE-1,


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