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Leadership Lessons Learned From Michelle Obama

If you want to see the power of a mobilizing figure, you have no farther to look than Michelle Obama. Her passion, authenticity, and strength connect straight to the hearts and minds of her audience, making them feel seen and heard, and their message shared through her voice. How do other leaders mobilize people into […]

Michelle Obama

If you want to see the power of a mobilizing figure, you have no farther to look than Michelle Obama. Her passion, authenticity, and strength connect straight to the hearts and minds of her audience, making them feel seen and heard, and their message shared through her voice. How do other leaders mobilize people into action?

There is no hard and fast science to what makes a leader especially mobilizing and transformative. Yes, some leaders just “have what it takes”; that charismatic ability to move their audience to tears, speak to their heart, and create a massive wave of change. In the end, there are certain characteristics that are woven through these people who become truly mobilizing leaders, creating real positive change in the world.

Leaders are authentic. 

Authenticity is simply something that people feel from a leader – it can’t be faked. When a leader shows up as who they truly are, and speaks from their own personal values – this is where connection happens. This is where the audience and the people feel moved to their hearts because they too resonate with what this leader truly believes. “Speaking from the heart” is one of the most powerful ways to deeply connect with an audience, and build the trust needed for truly powerful leadership.

Leaders allow their emotions to be real. 

Think about Michelle Obama’s speech about Donald Trump; you could hear her voice shaking with rage as she talked about the way he treats women. This isn’t something she’s just reading from a teleprompter – these are words spoken from the deepest part of her being, her vulnerabilities, her experience as a woman – and this is what connects and moves her audience to their core.

Leaders don’t make it about them. 

Think about the leaders you know who have made the biggest difference in the world. Were they working for their own personal gain? No… those who have mobilized people into action are working for the benefit of the greater good. They care so deeply about their people and the world at large, that they have dedicated their lives to sharing a message and creating the change that will ultimately impact humanity for the better. One misstep can break the plate of a relationship forever. As leaders, we are always being watched.  What I have noticed, particularly in my professional career, is that while many of my bosses in formal positions of authority have had great leadership qualities, their “Fatal flaw” shows up in such a way that it impacts their ability to lead from a place of true power.

Inconsistency can kill a leader’s reputation. Sadly, one poor decision can create a lot of confusion and mistrust.

Leaders don’t people-please.

The most significant leaders stand for a cause. They are not out there to make everyone happy or get everyone to like them. They know that sharing their message is going to anger some people – and they’re powerfully called to share it because it’s their responsibility to give a voice to the people who need them.

Leaders passionately align with a cause.

Leaders who mobilize people into action are so aligned with their cause, that they are willing to risk anything and everything to connect with their audience and create the change they so deeply know is needed. They have charisma to spare—the ability to communicate a clear, visionary, and inspirational message that captivates and motivates an audience.

Our ability to connect to the hearts and minds of those we lead. It is all about presence, rapport, authenticity, trust, being of integrity. There is a long list of leadership qualities that one can strive for. But leadership can also be a quiet thing. Like you are in the presence of it, but you don’t always know why you feel so inspired. 

Those who recognize that they have a responsibility to the world, to their employees, to their followers, to make the world a better place. To do no harm. To love, to inspire, to enrich. To build people up. To help people access hope.  Those are the worthy leaders. In the end, leadership is all about connection—and vice versa. But pay close attention to all those details. The truth is hiding there in plain sight. Our world needs connectors to take the lead, like Michelle Obama, to bridge the gaps. 

For more tips on how to leverage connection for influence as a leader, you can get a free sample chapter of my book The Connection Challenge™ right here.

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