Have you ever encountered someone who exudes passion about their career, hobbies, family, or even the beauty of life in general? I had the privilege of meeting such a person on my recent plane ride home from Peru. The conversation started after Paresh volunteered to switch seats so our family could sit together. I remember talking about family and where we were both traveling to and from (my family on the way home from Peru, he and his family visiting potential colleges) and then our line of work. Out of all of the people I could have been seated next to, it was Paresh Shah who is a keynote speaker, founder of Lifter Leadership, and Partner in The Non-Obvious Company. We connected about topics on the women's movement, trust in the workplace, creating innovation through Non-Obvious thinking techniques, amazing new approaches to effective leadership, and my favorite topic, gratitude. At the end of the flight, he gifted me a little bracelet and his card sharing with me his TedXYouth talk on Lifter Leadership. After being drawn to this simple purple bracelet with little whales and continuing to wear it each day, I realized I needed to watch his talk. That is when I understood completely his message.
TedXYouth invited Paresh to come to Hong Kong and present his Lifters talk to the youth of the region because they believe the young generation will start to create change in our world. They felt so strongly that young people needed to hear his powerful message and his talk was streamed live to elementary, secondary and high schools. I, too, resonate deeply with the four “Mindshifts” which organizations must make to embrace Lifters Leadership and realize the power it has to engage today’s workers, drive innovation, build trust with customers, and change the world. What struck me was how the Lifter Leadership approach was universal, so relevant to today’s times of broken leadership and how it could resonate with all people, young or old, men or women, senior leaders or front-line workers, and people from all cultures. When he shared the inspiring stories of Lifters he met on the road, he lit up like fireworks at 30,000 feet knowing his Lifter message was changing the hearts and minds of CEOs, governments, line workers, and youth everywhere--his was a man on a mission to change the world. A Harvard MBA and leadership guru, deeply studied in mindfulness, yoga, and ancient wisdom, was now shepherding a message and practical methodology on how positivity, purpose, compassion, and creativity were not only compatible with success, they were essential to succeed and survive.
It reminds me of a story recently shared by a client. A vendor in the Vacation Rental Industry told a homeowner how lucky he was to work with Bennington Properties who manages his home. He said, “I would follow the owner of this company into a burning house,”. Why? Knowing Robert Bennington, I knew exactly why! It is because he is a Lifter! His leadership team and employees are so loyal and appreciative of him. He uplifts his employees, his customers, his partners, and his community. They will follow his lead anywhere, knowing his integrity and intentions are always positive, and many of his team have worked there for decades.
Lifter Leadership can help solve the five biggest problems companies face:
I personally see each of these challenges in companies I coach. It is real and takes a toll on employees, leaders, company performance, and all of their futures. I am watching middle managers struggle with the stress and how to manage in each of these areas. Many want a quick fix- common in today’s world. Yet, progressive leaders understand that working through these challenges takes a systematic approach, inner reflection, a consistent message, patience, and a desire to make a difference and be purpose driven. After hearing 70% of our workforce in 2020 will be millennials, it supports the need for this major shift even more. As Paresh points out in an entertaining and endearing dig to his Indian father, “Older generations have always criticized younger people, and much of the criticism of new, younger workers is misguided and unfair because we are leading them with outdated approaches... This generation wants to work with companies with strong Lifter cultures that have purpose, positivity, authenticity, and integrity ... -- they simply won’t stand for less any longer and they really shouldn’t.” We cannot do things the way we have in the past because it no longer works, and we must embrace this change NOW and the Lifter Leadership model our new frequent flyer friend shared with us, is the first holistic, teachable way to address all 5 challenges above. Solving these problems will not happen overnight, but the Lifter principles and skills make sense and many practices can be conveyed in a short hop from LA to Seattle, with still time for some Netflix.
Lifter Leadership creates engaged, innovative, loyal ambassadors for your organization by applying the Four Lifter Mindshifts. Paresh conveys, “Mindsets often can be too rigid, people get fixated and rigid when in fact, we all need to adapt and evolve. Society is rapidly going through a major transformation, just look at the contrast and chaos in the world. It’s a clear indication that the world is shifting into a new era. A Whole New World. We need to evolve the way we think, speak and behave and it doesn’t happen overnight. Like anything new, it takes practice.” The Four Lifter Leadership Mindshifts Paresh shared harkened me back to one of my favorite books which I use as the foundation of relationship-building sales, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The Four Lifter Mindshifts are: The Hunt is Over, Tune or Consequences, Be a Yes AND Leader, and Take Invictus Action. Here’s my take on them:
#1: The Hunt is Over - In the outgoing model, much of business has been about exerting power over others (customers, employees, suppliers, competitors). Lifters move beyond being transactional and bring purpose and positivity to serve those around them, rather than see them as prey to hunt. Robert recently proposed the following purpose to his leadership team, asking for their feedback. “Change people's lives, make dreams come true, and live lives of abundant, overflowing joy.” He shared that he is working to have a full-time coach on staff to work with his leadership team on aligning their individual purpose to corporate purpose. Decades ago, few executives would have been so bold as my client, today it is more commonplace and not so far-fetched from a bottom-line perspective. Newsweek recently published an article outlining that people with a sense of purpose, live longer. They defined purpose as, “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals, promotes healthy behaviors and gives meaning to life.” Who wouldn't want that in a company they work for? Scientists aren’t able to identify the exact link with living longer and having a purpose, some suspect that it could be due to preventing genes linked to inflammation, a major factor is disease, pain and workplace absenteeism and presentism.
#2: Tune or Consequences – This Second Lifter Mindshift is all about embodying authenticity and integrity in every aspect of your business - - your products, marketing, internal processes and how you treat people. Paresh talked about how sensitive today’s younger generation is to inauthenticity and especially attuned to authenticity. These young workers have no tolerance for companies Instagramming pictures of their executives doing ‘socially responsible’ deeds on one hand while treating workers unethically across the globe or dumping toxins in the environment. Customers and workers will proactively, or often subconsciously, move towards companies they feel are authentic and shy away from those they feel are (two-faced, dishonest, fake). I have been working with Robert and his team discussing the company values and how his leadership team can embody them during 2019 as a goal for the company. We dig into how employees are living the values and what it looks like when they are compromised. The goal is to celebrate the successes and coach employees on the opportunities, striving for living the values in all ways.
#3: Be a YES AND person – This is one of my favorite Mindshifts and speaks straight to my heart. In the outgoing model, organizations would box people into specific role types and stereotypes -- front line cooks and cleaners, quantitative people, salespeople, operational people, etc. Jobs would be defined in such a constrained way that left little room for people to express their unique aspects of creativity as a person. Who wants that? With so many organizations struggling with diversity and innovation, the Lifter Mindshift gives people permission to express their “Yes AND” gifts and skills. It helps organizations recognize, tap into and skill up to benefit from encouraging their team members to align their own passions, interests, and uniqueness to their responsibilities. Part of why so many workers are disengaged is they feel they are treated as automatons who do not think. When Lifters leaders help employees apply their unique gifts to their jobs, even in the smallest of ways, they unlock a treasure trove of commitment, innovation, passion, and drive that they never saw before. When I look at Robert’s “Yes AND,” I see a business owner, father of six who homeschools his children once a week and takes his boys sailing to learn about math, physics, geography, oceanography, government, and marine biology. His leadership team is constantly in “ah” of him and his dedication to the business and his family.
#4: Take Invictus Action: Lifters take action in compassionate ways and seek ways to have everyone win, not just a few. One of the skills taught under this Mindshift of Taking Invictus Action is “Redefining victory”. For many business owners, having a thriving business is a victory. For Robert, supporting and growing the people who make his business thrive is victory. This action, in turn, creates a leadership team who does the same with its members in their individual departments. The members then flow this same purposeful action into their everyday encounters with coworkers, guests, suppliers, their community, and even with so-called competitors who they cooperate with to serve customers if needed. Everyone wins! This Mindshift was inspired by Nelson Mandela’s campaign to forge unity in the divided country of South Africa -- creating true beauty, harmony, and victory of a new kind.
This is a high-level overview of the Lifter Leadership approach and the Four Lifter Mindshifts Paresh shared with us. What I resonate most about these Mindshifts, as it applies to all levels of employees from owners to front-line staff. Each Mindshift has specific teachable, and learnable, skills and practices anyone can learn, and teams enjoy practicing. We know the Lifters in our lives and workplaces. They make things better and people are drawn to them.
“It’s a whole new world being created, and Lifters are the New Leaders of this world” -Paresh Shah