Leadership is one of those complex topics. Depending on your experiences growing up, you may have been told to be a leader and the importance of having leadership qualities. Perhaps you think leaders are only born leaders. If you are a entrepreneur, maybe you believe that because you started a business you are automatically the leader or somehow have the right to leadership. From restaurants to corporate board rooms, leadership is a hot button for getting ahead and having leverage.
Heather Parillo is the CEO and Founder of IFLY Integrative Leadership and an Unbeatable Mind Coach. I had the honor of speaking with her and having her share her view of what leadership is and what it is not. She demonstrates through her life what leadership can be when you learn to maximize your own potential by first embracing yourself. Heather has traveled the world coaching leaders in corporate settings and has put her ideas and conclusions of leadership to the test. We are going to look at leadership redefined and electrified HP style, and see what "existing to serve" means in a way that will take your business or professional career to the next level.
Leadership Redefined (again)
According to Kevin Kruse, a historian, NY Times bestselling author, and contributor at Forbes, leadership is "a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal." Google, who is notorious for their willingness to experiment, fail and discover, landed on 10 characteristics that make for the best managers. You can look through all the characteristics here as published on Business Insider, which includes communicating, being result-oriented, supportive and more. There are thousands of articles similar to this, but how many address the internal condition of the leader?
Heather believes "taking care of mind, body and spirit so that you can lead powerfully passionately and effectively" is how a leader makes a difference. She points out how the standard corporate culture is structured in a way that is designed to not care for the inner condition of people in leadership. Possibly we've all seen or had that manager that looks like they barely sleep, seem to respond to emails all hours of the night, barely leave the office and are somehow getting by with a serious caffeine problem.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a professional, possessing all the leadership qualities are useless in the long wrong if your approach to leadership is not inclusive and grounded in caring for yourself first. IFLY Integrative Leadership is about an approach to your health for an optimized life in which you can live a life you love. Heather beautifully explains, “you cannot lead unless you can look in the mirror every single morning know who you are, your true self and your purpose, and be able to look at that man or woman in the eyes and say, I fucking love you...until you get there it is my belief you cannot authentically lead others.”
“You cannot lead unless you can look in the mirror every single morning know who you are, your true self and your purpose, and be able to look at that man or woman in the eyes and say, I fucking love you...until you get there it is my belief you cannot authentically lead others.” -Heather Parillo
How many of you take the role of leadership within your business, your social groups, or your home from the ideology that you can't rest, there is too much to do, you have to out worry everyone, you have to skip meals, shave time off hours for sleep because productivity reigns and the expectation weighs tremendously?
Heather defines leadership in a way that is far more electrifying than a list of qualifications to check off. Leadership is, "being so clear on the purpose and vision on what you are doing that you can articulate to anyone and have them so enrolled and excited about the vision because they get how this fuels their soul... you are not managing people, you are leading [...] always about the vision, commitment and the values, enjoying the process not to get somewhere but because its who you are."
In case you are wondering what that looks like among the team, Heather explains that it looks like taking care of each other, integrity, authenticity, responsibility and it looks like having fun.
Leadership cannot exist without a clear vision, a purpose, and caring for self and others. Heather's experience facilitating in international communities reinforces these principles.
TAKEAWAY: You cannot lead without knowing who you are, and you will not lead optimally and effectively until get to a place of loving yourself. There must be trust, alignment, and accountability along side the people you lead.
Existing to Serve
Existing to serve is about doing the inner work, it never ends. Heather talks about growing to have the capacity to serve others. It's almost contradictory, but procuring a greater capacity for others means turning inwards. Discovering or re-evaluating your why supports the freedom for you to be and therefore increase your capacity.
In our conversation, Heather and I discuss the motivation at the root of a person's why that is driving them and contributes to their purpose and vision as a leader. Being motivated to have the strength and capacity to take care of others is a powerful why that Heather is crystal clear on for herself. When you take inventory of your motives and what is buried at the foundation of your why in your business or career, hopefully you can dig far enough to uncover a "who" not a "what." For true authentic leadership which comes with power, there is a powerful connection to a person or group of people, it is never about you.
Thinking of leadership and power, one of favorite Bible stories is when Jesus washes his disciples' feet. This is not about your faith or mine. This story however, exemplifies what true leadership and power could be. After they had a meal Jesus reveals to the disciples who He is and what is to come. Essentially he acknowledges being the most powerful person in the room (abbreviated to spare some of you, but again, your idea of religion is not needed here, just stick with me). He then removes his outer garment (worn as a Rabi, symbol of position and authority in some capacity) and wraps a towel around his waist (physically the attire of a servant) and on his hands and knees he washes his disciples' dusty feet.
Now, imagine if you were invited to a dinner with Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, and they remove their suit jacket, pick up a food tray and walk around to serve dinner to everyone. What would the culture of your business look like if you adopted the mentality of exiting to serve others as a way of truly leading? How greatly would the professional work space change if leaders had a slight shift in how they existed to serve? Service if not just for charity, community events, and when its court ordered. Existing to serve your customers, and those that you want to lead can be powerful.
TAKEAWAY: Existing to serve by maximizing the capacity in which you can serve your team and others will impact your success in the best way.
HP BONUS: Overcome the challenges between you and your goal
Feel it - how the accomplishment will make you feel
Write it down - journaling is like breathing for success
Visualize (see it, smell it, feel it, hear it, and taste that moment)
Declare it - project the thought and idea into the universe, speak your truth.
Everyday get up and get busy
Be bold in your declarations - don't play small
A little HP can brighten anyone's day
CEO/Founder IFLY Integrative Leadership
Unbeatable Mind Coach
"I'm just a little girl that learned to fly!"