How to be a Leader by Martin Bjergegaard and Cosmina Popa

Introduction. Kitty Genovese was murdered on 13 March 1964. Ever since, the 911 emergency system was used. She wasn’t famous but the murder was brutal. The strange thing was that nobody called the police. There were 37 people who witnessed the murder but didn’t call the police. When interviewed, they all assumed that someone should have had called the police already. People condemned the human race as being selfish. Researchers have termed this the bystander effect. It’s about the diffusion of responsibility. Social influence also reflects that it is okay to be like everyone else. Bystander apathy can be overcome and there are instances that prove it. Leadership is a choice too, you can choose whether to step up or not. In China, some babies died when their milk powder contained melamine. Melamine is known to cause severe urinary problems and kidney damage. We need to step up as leaders and be masters of our own lives. This book will introduce ideas, thinking and practices. Every moment is a potential for you to exhibit leadership qualities. There are 12 strongest leadership lessons. Leadership needs to evolve with the times.

You. You need to know thyself. Learn to discover one’s purpose. Connect your leadership with your purpose. Learn to become wiser. Be curious about yourself and have a thirst for knowledge. Become a touchstone of wisdom, awareness etc.

Is There Something You Really, Really Care about? For instance, can you stand up to bullies? In Naples, there is a culture where people would advance purchase a coffee for someone in need. It was then that John discovered the need to pay it forward through simple acts of kindness. This is a simple way to help someone in need. John Sweeney really cared about kindness as he was bullied as a kid. When someone does a favour for you, turn around and do someone else a favour too. Learn to lead a big movement of people. Look deep inside yourself to find out what moves you. Is there anything which you care about deeply? Leadership is for everyone. Stillness and solitude is important for self-reflection. Sit down and reflect on the moments where you have been hurt or pained. Ask yourself whether there is anything you care deeply about?

The best leaders in the world find what they really care about, and almost everything else flows from this point. But many of us live in a way that is out of alignment with our true purpose. – Martin Bjergegaard

Mind the Body. How will I be able to cope with jet lag? Extensive traveling can be draining on the body. We need to learn to pay attention to red flags. Please take care of your body. Modern leadership requires heart, body mind and soul. You can view your body as a temple which houses your consciousness. In the past, people believed in dualism, but we know our mind and matter are integrated. You must always take good care of yourself. Sleep is of utmost importance. Sleep is actually vital for memory consolidation. It is also associated with cell rejuvenation. It cleans away dead and dying cells. Poor sleep habits are associated with negative well-being. You should sleep a minimum of 7 hours every night. Learn to possess self-care and not abuse alcohol. Please avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Find the type of movement which you like to take part in, this could be in the form of dance etc. Your body is a sage. Researchers have discovered that we have both a heart and gut brain. Your body can also produce ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses to everything. Our body is indeed really intelligent. How do we inhabit the body? Like artists, leaders have to step back and listen and be open to change. Learn to enhance your relationship with your body.

What’s important is that we acknowledge where we are, accept and love ourselves exactly as we are. – Martin Bjergegaard

If we consume information prior to going to sleep for a minimum of an hour and a half, this enables our brain to consolidate learning and we retain that information for a longer period of time. – Martin Bjergegaard

Unleash Your Curiosity. You must always question the status quo and how can you do things better. Always learn with an open mind. Curiosity is a habit where we can all develop. A world without curiosity could be extremely boring. It would kill the human spirit. Curiosity makes our lives richer. Children tend to be curious than adults. It is always possible to find something that you are curious about. Young people should be learning how to create the future. The problem with curiosity is that one might get too distracted and unfocused. What people need is focused curiosity.

A lot of people do it when retired – and those are the ones that seem to be getting ten years older during their first year of retirement. In order to thrive, most of us need surroundings and circumstances that change, develop and ideally improve. Our curiosity is what makes tomorrow interesting.  -Martin Bjergegaard

Infuse Your Leadership with ‘Ecosophy’. Churchill was fascinated by butterflies. Could this have helped keep him calm? Nature can indeed move and nurture you. One should be at one with nature. Learn to have a deeper appreciation of nature. ‘Ecosophy’ means a dynamic and evolving sense of wisdom required to live in harmony with the Earth. Nature can also be inspiration for buildings and structures. Learn to have a deep experience with nature. Nature can indeed be your teacher. Humans actually for form a subsystem with Mother Nature.

A moment that touches us and, with a gasp, allows us to see and feel the intricate marvel of the web of life of which we are a part. – Chris Nichols

You & Others. Culture matters. Communication is everything. Master the Art of Communication. The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is extremely demanding and can take more than 10 months. Most of the crew were amateurs. Communication was the key for success. The skipper is the leader, who must communicate with his crew well. Here are 5 key skills for effective leadership. They are 1) storytelling; 2) understand what others are saying; 3) conflict resolution; 4) be open and transparent; 5) create a space for others to tell the truth. The second one is difficult to achieve. It is necessary to foster genuine conversations that lead to mutual understanding. The use of the talking stick works, as the person who holds it is allowed to talk. No one else is allowed to talk. The listener should be able to repeat what has been said. Strive to understand the other party. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Be transparent. Do not keep your employees in the dark over problems in your company. Ensure that your employees understand your P&L statement etc. The owners shouldn’t cover up when the start-up is sinking. It is okay to be vulnerable. Find a way to pull through together. Talk to other people in your organization about going beyond small talk.

Trust is immediately eradicated when people sense we are not being honest with them. They might not know exactly where the fire is, but they will notice the smoke. None of us enjoys being kept in the dark, and the result is a quick drop in morale. – Martin Bjergegaard

Define your Riverbanks. We need to create culture and evolve it over time. When there are people, there is culture. It can be dynamic. It takes leadership for this to happen. The Container Store in the US aims to ‘help people organize and simplify their lives’. They pay their employees very well. Money is not the most important motivator. The 3 intrinsic motivators are 1) autonomy; 2) mastery; 3) purpose. The company invests in training. The employees feel valued and tend to stay. As a leader, you must be there with your employees. There must be a culture of taking care of your employees. For instance, the aim of a restaurant could be to leave people a little happier when they leave than when they came in. Pleasing guests were important. Learn to develop a ‘hospitality quotient’. Culture is like a boundary, just like a riverbank. Lead to design a culture where everyone can thrive. For instance, you could end meetings with voluntary appreciation.

Decision-making is a Team Sport. At Rainmaking, we were run by 6 co-CEOs. We make decisions collectively. Someone must be the natural leader. This is powerful collective leadership. Traditional thinking is that there can be only 1. As a group, we make better decisions. We also own the decision, so there are better commitment levels. This also leads to better team morale. In the past, direct democracy was possible, but it soon got evolved to representative democracy because there were too many people involved in the decision making. People should vote for those who best represent them to make a decision.

Grow Your Appetite for Altruism. I remember being in a sheep farm. I knew I wanted to move to the US. Marylyn Ginsburg was very curious about learning and was concerned with people in the orphanage. I respected her deeply. She also funded my education partially. I experienced genuine acts of altruism and wanted to pay it forward. Altruism and co-operation are deeply linked. Selfishness is not the only reason for altruism. One person can make the difference too. Never underestimate that. Altruism can build a more caring society.

Shadow. This is the dark side of our personality. We are reluctant to explore it. Invite fear and learn from it. You can transform uncertainty into creativity. Learn to build a constructive relationship with your ego.

Leadership During Crisis. The first tip to deal with crisis is to apply yourself as a human being and not a corporate CEO. Be authentic and deal with the problem yourself, and not use a spokesperson. Get help from the board and experts. Get help from PR advisers if necessary to prepare to face the media. Think about the landscape you are navigating. Treat crises as learning opportunities for your company to rebound and step up. Trust that the world is good. Ask yourself: what is the right thing to do under these circumstances? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

So when you experience a crisis as a leader, remember that we are all imperfect, never lose your perspective, and trust that you will eventually be forgiven. – Martin Bjergegaard

Welcome, Uncertainty. There is no blueprint for uncertainty. We need to live on the edge of the unknown. When something happens, we tend to classify it as either good, bad or neutral. You can start to practice mindfulness. It can help the pain to go away. Notice the sensations you feel but let them go, without an anchor. One can try the sensation or isolation chamber. You can learn to consciously deal with uncertainty. Mindfulness is a great way to deal with the problem.

In order to do something extraordinary, to create something from nothing, you have to not only be okay with uncertainty, but actually welcome it. – Martin Bjergegaard

Double Your Failure Rate. Failure can be crippling. Success and failures are indeed very relative in nature. We like to compare our achievements with our past. Learn to view your genius as something external to you. Humans have the tendency to compare with people in our immediate surroundings. Failures are just part of your journey. There will be hits and misses. Humour is a great way to deal with failure. Share your failures openly. BVP has a website documenting their anti-portfolio, or list of failures. View failures through a philosophical lens. Failure and pain are necessary for growth. Failure is the greatest teacher of all. What is the optimal next step from all this? Learn to write a plan.

Without taking risks, we are not going to accomplish much. But taking a risk by definition involves a high probability of failure. 90% of all start-ups are said to fail, but still millions of people quit their job every year to start their own thing. – Martin Bjergegaard

On Ego and The Forces of Glamour. As a CEO, you have to watch your ego. How do you recognize when it is getting out of hand? It is a double-edged sword and it can also create something new. The ego is a ‘complex of ideas which constitute the centre of one’s field of consciousness’. It is like man’s best friend. It can cause mischief for our leaders. It likes to seek validation and attention. Glamour is something that distorts our perception and reality. If you like to find fault with employees, it is an example of being in glamour. Do not drag your negative energy home. Some people feel there is glamour in busyness and self-importance. Be aware and cultivate a detachment. When you observe your ego taking over, take a breather and a back-seat.

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