In business, how much do you consider the question of faith? Faith is a funny old thing. It’s a world-changing power. Leaders need people to have faith in them. Ideas need to have believers to turn them from concept into world-changing innovations. Businesses need to have employees with faith in their future. Faith is fuel for energy, it’s fire to light up ideas, it’s the glue to keep groups together. It – as they say – moves mountains – and it’s an essential ingredient in moving businesses from breakeven to breakthrough.
As a leader, you need followers. Followers need faith in you and the vision. The question is: how do you do that? How do you instil and inspire faith?
We humans are complicated creatures. We are incredibly emotional but we love to feel that we are actually logical. We need, as P&G would say, ‘a reason to believe.’
At Caffeine we are driven by the power of finding exactly the right words. That matters with faith too. Preachers inspire, storytellers draw you in – all through words. But to generate real, evangelical, loyal faith? Show your flock some miracles. Demonstrate what you are saying with more than words.
It’s simple. To get people to believe in something, to generate real faith (whether it’s faith in a leader, a product or an idea) there’s nothing more powerful than providing some proof. A real, tangible example or demonstration. Or a miracle if you have one handy.
People ‘buy’ emotionally and then they justify rationally. Give them a story to believe in, but then give them something that allows them to feel smart and secure in their decision: the ‘proof’ that it’s real.
Proof is particularly powerful in three areas:
Making concepts credible. When bringing to life an innovation or an amazing idea, are you showing rather than just telling? This can be clunky but it’s a nice way to make the complicated or strong claims feel credible. L’Oreal’s ‘And now for the science bit’. Today it’s also about recommendations (peer to peer – believe because others do) and it’s always about results (8 out of 10 cats). Prove it.
To overcome ‘it can’t be done’. If you have tired cynics and people lacking in vision, or nervous people lacking in belief give them inspiration from where it’s been done before. At Caffeine we help senior management engage teams to deliver innovation, business development and positive change. One of the best things we can do as consultants is to be magpies and mavens. We share shiny relevant examples of how it has been done elsewhere, to help prove that change is possible and that persistence pays. We live in a world where we landed on the moon nearly 5 decades ago. Amazing things are possible and they are possible in your organisation; if you believe.
To use ‘The Shadow of a Leader’ to cast a positive reflection. Change and success is dependent on proof at the top. When the senior leadership at 02 took BT Telecom’s unwanted child in with one of the biggest, most impressive business transformations the phrase ‘The Shadow of a Leader’ was used to show clearly what impact their senior management had. Whatever a leader does it casts a powerful, far-reaching shadow beyond what they may immediately perceive. In Andy Milligan and Shaun Smith’s latest book On Purpose, it’s shown time and time again how ineffectual a purpose statement is for an organisation without it being put into practice, clearly and consistently via purpose-driven leadership. Demonstrate what values you believe in by rewarding the people who show them. Make conscious choices about what you don’t do to loudly demonstrate to everyone internally that what you say is what you mean.
Enough with the PowerPoint decks, your mission statement and the clever lines. What changes behaviour, habits, laws and the future? Show me, show me, show me some evidence.
So if you are an impatient leader, trying to make things happen, it’s worth remembering this basic, important fact: Seeing is believing.
Emmeline Pankhurst changed the world in which we operate. She led a fierce, complicated battle and gave people faith and she summed all this up succinctly: ‘Deeds, not words.’
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