The Power of Belief

Columns - Guest Column

Your team wants to believe. So, learn how to become that leader who is heavily invested in your team and inspire them to be the best – and most productive – versions of themselves.

July 29, 2021

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Recently, I sat in on a Zoom call and looked at the gallery of faces on our team staring back at me, getting ready to wrap up our online meeting. Suddenly, I felt this inspired moment and said to the group, “You are all A Players, and I cannot be prouder to work with this team. There is not a better team in the city doing what we do at the level we are doing it!”

Being somewhat of an intuitive leader, I just blurted out my comments. As I panned across the screen, I saw a swelling pride and thankfulness on many of their hard-working faces. I tell this story, not so much focused on the particular approach, but to remind us of the reality of what the human spirit needs to thrive and be at its best.

People need to believe. People need to be believed in.

Sounds simple, right? Perhaps, but for seasoned leaders, they know better. Belief is fragile and elusive. Most people can sniff out something that is fake. Authenticity is a necessity. We hear about and discuss ad nauseam about creating great cultures in our companies. This is always a worthy discussion. However, if the end result of our culture-building efforts do not result in a team of people who believe in the mission, believe in one another, and believe in themselves, well, your rocket ship of a company will never really launch.

Join me and let’s examine this further.

We spend so much time as leaders in various activities, but true leadership at its core directs its energy at getting our people onboard with who we are as a group and where we are going. We want them to believe in who we are and what we are striving to do. We want them to believe in their fellow teammates. We need them to believe in themselves.

When people have these three areas of belief aligned in the mission, the team and themselves, well, you are on the verge of greatness. Belief is contagious. If you are a student of history, you are aware of the myriad situations where a country has believed in a leader who was insincere or even worse ... lying about their true mission or agenda. Scores of millions have perished under systems where false or faulty beliefs were promoted.

So, what can we learn from history?

People are starving to believe. This may sound grandiose but think about your local professional sports teams. If your teams are like mine, they are made up of athletes who are drafted or recruited to that team from around the country, and sometimes, from around the world. They have the local connection of tourists visiting from somewhere else. And yet, every season, the fans line up behind their team and chant, cheer and support their team. It’s an example of the power of belief and it’s everywhere. If you are a leader, define yourself first and foremost by the mission you create and people who join you on it, but also, by your ability to inspire belief. That’s true leadership at it’s very heart.

And how do you harness this power in your company?

First, you must have a great mission that is worth people investing their lives, time and energies in. That mission cannot be about any one person, but it’s about this mission and involves everyone, pulling together to win the championship in your city and industry. It should evoke people to give and even sacrifice, on occasion, to make this worthy mission a reality.

As the leader, what do you want this company to look like three years from today? Describe every area of the company. Create a picture painted with your words that can be shared and believed.

Second, you must have the right people who can and want to be inspired. The fact is, some people simply don’t care, are playing injured (after a bad work experience elsewhere) or are not a good fit in your organization. It’s imperative you align your organization to the mission that includes where you want to go as a company and the values you want to live by as you journey together.

Third, and this is often the hardest, do the hard work of communication throughout the organization. If you are a key leader who has the voice and credibility to communicate the mission, then work like an evangelist. Your goal is to reach everyone. Find ways to do that through meetings, emails and other means, so you are constantly talking about your elevated mission and how worthy it is. Work in all levels of the organization.

So often, leaders spend too much of their time in meetings doing work that – for an owner, CEO or top executive – is often simply busy work. Don’t be that person who takes a utilitarian, detached position in your business. Rather, be that leader who is heavily invested in your team, inspiring them to be the best version of themselves.

A frequent Snow Magazine contributor, Mike Jones is the owner of True North Outdoor and a 2014 Leadership Award recipient.