In reflecting on this model of leadership and life it is crucial to keep in mind that life is not simply about skills of influence in order to generate the results you want in life—it is fundamentally about developing your character and the character of others. Therefore, in the visual model the core structure from which all other “building” takes place is by working on your character, namely, the aspect of yourself that serves as the filter of perception whereby you classify meaning, motivations, and intentions.
If you were to know all the models of influence and have some degree of mastery over them there are still two major caveats of consideration. (1) The tools of influencing others are readily available, but without the proper intentions, and motives, and mission in life these “tools” will serve as manipulation tactics and strategies for unsustainable ends. This has several layers of un-sustainability, namely, (a) people usually know when they are not appreciated or valued, and (b) in treating people simply as a means to get what you want cannot and will not be a perpetual strategy for goal acquisition. Additionally, (2) without proper development of one’s personal character in utilizing these tools then when it comes to the long range of what life is about, and what every human being is responsible for and who we are responsible to – we should recognize that in the end…..death is inevitable. Thus, the life that each of us have in these bodies will come to an end, and it will not matter what we have acquired in life, but what will matter is the “seeds” we have sown into the hearts and minds of others as well as into ourselves. Some of you may think, my goodness Ra why this gloomy death talk…Well the emerging field of positive psychology has shown through research that contemplating our inevitable deaths will actually increase our gratitude and appreciation for the life we have now, and can free up the cognitive and affective resources needed to truly reflect on what is most important to us, and what we are seeking to create (Frias, Watkins, Webber, & Froh, 2011). I wanted to frame this final part of Inspiring Communication (IC) by embedding within it the core aspects of our personality and character development that is much more significant in terms of being able to generate sustainable results—both personally and socially.
The primary characteristics of Inspiring Communication (IC) with (a) vision, (b) strategy, (c) systemic, and (d) the ability to communicate on various levels – all have a wealth of literature already written about each them. My goal is not to provide a comprehensive definition and knowledge base for each, but my goal is to provide a working knowledge that can be used in a practical manner for everyday life.
In short, vision is the ability to generate the end result goal. Strategy is the ability to discover the bigger questions that must be asked in order to “define” the vision. Systemic refers specifically to the various levels and inter-relationships of life such as the various levels and inter-relationships of: ourselves, family, business, culture, society, global, etc. The ability to communicate on various levels comes by becoming self-defined (i.e. by consciously knowing who you are, what you stand for, where you come from, and where you are going) and embodying the systemic nature of life. For example – when we think about our own lives we can see that we have several roles that we manage (i.e. spouse, parent, career, etc.) and that embedded within each role we have our own expectations, desires, outcomes, feelings, beliefs, etc., that we bring—–and remember within your mental space that so does every single person you meet [with varying degrees and commitments of course—see Integration: August 2012].
Vision requires that you develop your imagination, your ability to think symbolically, your ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts [see Adapting Competence]. Vision is the development to know where you want to go and where you are going, and this concept of vision has been extracted primarily from business phraseology and translated into developing a personal vision, a family vision, to a study-group vision, to a church or non-profit vision, etc. Although the concept of “visions” has been around for millennia in seeking to discover or knowing a path that a person or people group should take. However, vision and strategy are closely linked together because developing a strategy requires you or a business to ask the big questions. These questions are “big” because they do not focus on the fine details or tactics of direct implementation but refer to the overall course and direction in life or in business. From a business perspective this means defining what business you are really in, what you can be the best at, how you can meet the needs and desires of your potential customer base, and how you are different than any competitors. In your personal life, strategy refers to you asking yourself key questions about yourself.
As noted in previous postings such as “Blinded by Vagueness,” “Potential Tyranny of Generalities” and “Shared Meaning” is that when we don’t invest the time to really question our business or our life of what we stand for, why we stand for it, etc., then we tend to go through life responding to events on an auto-pilot, or what social psychologists refer to automaticity (Bargh, 1982; Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Moors & De Houwer, 2006). The commitment, resilience, and discipline required to master oneself are well-worth the struggle, rather than going through life mindlessly.
Please keep in mind that each layer of Emergent Leadership builds on each other; therefore, the internal locus of control and resolve mentioned in Integrating Character (IC), and the skill building of Adapting Competence (AC) are integral components of Inspiring Communication (IC). To know where you want to go in your life and/or business is necessary, because once you have committed to a direction and potential possibility you can begin the process of strategy-mapping which will help you to define how the vision will be realized. The systemic element of Inspiring Communication (IC) is to flesh out the finer details of your vision and strategy for mapping the vision. Understanding the systemic nature of relationships is so crucial, because as family system therapy recognizes that the standard reason why a child acts out is because the parent either models the behavior for the child, or the child does not receive what they need from the parent (i.e. problem solving skills, attention, etc.) and then they find coping mechanisms in order to solve their problems which often turn out to be negative. Those who have dogs that are out of control simply need to learn a few skills in order to restore the proper boundaries and roles in these relationships.
The ability to communicate on multiple levels is obviously necessary for any parent, leader, or politician. Think about it…When you want to gain agreement you focus on the big picture and use ambiguous words such as: hope, change, positive results, taking responsibility, etc. These particular words all of us can agree are both good and edifying. However, when you begin to closely examine what these words actually mean in context of how they are directly applied we can often see that the finer details of what people mean when they say “change” or “positive results” may have different meanings than you initially believed them to be. To communicate on multiple levels requires you to understand where people are at, namely what are their roles and responsibilities. As a leader, you don’t want to discuss your personal problems with your spouse to other employees. What this refers to is having discernment in maintaining proper boundaries between roles, and not directly to communicating on multiple levels.
Communicating on multiple levels means that you are able to address the various dimensions of a person. You can speak to the heart, and/or the head, or to possibilities, or to loses, or to pressing needs, changes, purposes and missions, what is not-permitted, etc. Therefore, to communicate effectively is to recognize potential objections and acknowledge them up-front, and it also requires you to understand the needs of others. Keep in mind that we each have the same needs, but we just seek them out in different ways. For example, we all need certainty and to feel appreciated, but we each have different degrees of these needs, and we often seek or receive them in differing ways. However, since people are usually untrained experts at reading others, and generally know when they are not being valued or understood—it is necessary to develop one’s character to step beyond the boundary of oneself and have true respect and dignity for all people. When you genuinely honor another person – they usually sense it.
Understand where you want to go and why, define the strategies (big picture) and tactics (details) for getting there while keeping in mind the systemic-relationships that influence you, your business, your family, your community etc., and then communicate in such a way to others that clearly defines that you care about each of them individually and what is required of you and them to actualize the vision.
In the coming post(s) – I will refine this model more by changing its name, refining a few concepts, and bringing greater clarity as to how this model integrates into everyday life for each of us.
Peace be with you.
Bargh, J. A. (1982). Attention and automaticity in the processing of self-relevant information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(3), 425–436.
Bargh, J., & Chartrand, T. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being. American Psychologist, 54(7), 462-479.
Frias, A., Watkins, P., Webber, A., & Froh, J. (2011). Death and gratitude: Death reflection enhances gratitude. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(2), 154-162.
Moors, A., & De Houwer, J. (2006). Automaticity: A theoretical and conceptual analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 297-326.