Thinking Leaders – Trade Minds and Be Human

Skiers following a leader

I just finished The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Great book for you to put on your reading list. Yes… it is a “self-help” book – but it was written in 1959 and has sold millions of copies – so it is time tested and still standing! I found it to be very relevant and had many topics that were personally encouraging or challenging. I really liked the final chapter so I decided that I will discuss it with you through three messages (so I don’t write one that is way too long!)  

The closing chapter is titled “How to Think Like a Leader” and provides four leadership principles to consider as you engage in any form of leadership. We’ll dissect and discuss the first two today and attack the other two in the following weeks.  

Principle 1 – Trade minds with the people you want to influence 

This principle is really about seeing other people as significant individuals who have their own hopes, fears, interests, values, etc. They are not an object and they are not exactly like you or me. We cannot put people in cookie-cutter boxes and expect to be a driving influencer for them. We have to “keep this question in mind: ‘What would I think of this if I exchanged places with the other person?’” We will have more success in leading others, selling something, or gaining approval if we first “think of the interests of the people we want to influence.”  

He tells a story of a young lady who failed in retail procurement because she always purchased clothes that she liked for the store. Turns out, her taste in clothes and expectation of price was not even close to that of the store’s typical customer – so the clothes didn’t sell and she lost her job.  

Schwartz also provides some helpful situational questions to ask yourself. Here are a couple: 

  • The way I give orders – “Would I like to carry out orders if they were given to me the way I give them to others?” 
  • Preparing a speech – “Considering the background and interests of the audience, what would I think of this remark?” 

Application Question: What area of your life would benefit from implementing this principle? How would you do it? 

Principle 2 – Think: What Is the Human Way to Handle This? 

He starts off saying that there are three approaches to leadership situation – as the Dictator (who never involves subordinates in decisions), as the mechanical “rule-book-operator” (who is a manager by the book, no questions necessary), or as what he calls “Being Human.”  

The leader who takes the “be human” approach makes his actions say, “You are a human being. I respect you. I’m here to help you in every way I can.” Your approach in all circumstances shows that “you put people first” – because you’re all human and can address situations as humans would.  

Schwartz tells an impactful story about a business leader who saw every one of his employees as being “under his protection” and would go out of his way to serve his staff. When he needed to let an employee go who was not well suited for the position, instead of just kicking them out, he made connections and assisted the person in finding another job so they were able to transition directly without unemployment. Now that’s a high standard worth emulating! 

“Practice praising people. Rub people the right way. Be human.”  Or I like the way C.S. Lewis puts it – “be a good infection” in your relationship with others.  

Both of these principles have a striking similarity to the Golden Rule spoken by Jesus – “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” (or “treat others the way you want to be treated.)  

Application Question:  With whom can you “be human” today? What would change in your relationship? 

 

Reference: Schwartz, David. “How to Think Like a Leader.” The Magic of Thinking Big. Touchstone, pp. 275-302.

Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Thinking-Big-David-Schwartz/dp/1897384424/

Is Your Heart at Peace or at War?

Peace

All of us have either a “heart at peace” or a “heart at war” in relation to other individuals or groups. Our heart’s direction toward a person or group influences how we perceive and relate with them.  

Heart at Peace

 When we have a heart at peace (or outward mindset), we recognize the individual as a human being who is legitimate, valued, and perhaps even sacred – with their own story, experiences, desires and feelings. People have the potential to contribute and are respected for their own gifts, talents, and insights.

In a business setting, we can work together as a team and resolve normal conflicts and differences with respectful understanding. We respect each other and listen with patience to what people truly mean as they talk. With a heart at peace, you are actively watching for the positive in people in order to build up their strengths and empower them for excellence!

Heart at War

 When we have a heart at war (inward mindset) toward a person or group, we perceive them as an object without legitimate ideas, feelings, or contribution. They are valuable only as far as they benefit us or our purpose. We are “in the box” toward that person or group as we actually seek justification for our perception of them.

We look for reasons to maintain our heart at war – by focusing on the negative and overlooking everything positive about that person or group. Then we develop “collusion” by inviting that person to have a heart at war toward us – creating a vicious cycle that can only be broken when one of the parties decides to have a heart at peace. 

Think about who you might have a heart at war toward and make a decision today to begin having a heart at peace. It could be an individual you know or one you don’t know. It could be a group you’ve interacted with or perhaps an entire nation or people group you’ve never met. A change of heart starts with us recognizing these assumptions and perceptions – and deciding to change them.  

Here is a great post to read more on this topicShift to See the Other

Resources

 Here is a great summary video on these concepts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbkhK5HK_j0 

 Books by The Arbinger Institute: 

  • Leadership and Self-Deception 
  • The Anatomy of Peace 

 Videos: 

Be the change you wish to see in the world.  ~Ghandi