If there is anything I can teach you that will instantaneously make you a better leader, it is this: be compelling. When you are compelling as a leader, people are not only drawn to you, they are compelled to react to what you do and want to be a part of it–almost without even realizing it.
Great orators are compelling because they make people feel something; brilliant artists are compelling because they make people imagine something; adept magicians are compelling because they make people wonder; and comedians are compelling because they make people laugh. With all of these people there is always more to come and more to the story. While you might feel like you get to know an artist at their gallery exhibit, you really never do–at least not fully. And that is the beauty of it all–they give you something and keep you coming back for more.
Great leaders do the same. They leave people empowered and make employees believe in something greater than themselves. They inspire the troops and ignite fires within the soul. They share their vision, their goals, and their attitude about how they will gain more market share, become the best in the industry, and strike while the iron is hot. But they never, ever give away all of the story. They simply give you enough to create buy-in and to ensure that you will be back the next time when they reveal more. It is the mystery of something more that captivates and keeps people returning.
The best part is that you don’t need an IQ of 180 to be compelling. In fact, it is less about being intelligent and more about the ability to make people think. Little kids can accomplish wonders in this area. They are still discovering the world and because of that they ask questions that often stop people in their tracks. Is it because they are brilliant? No, it is because they are constantly thinking and they force others to think as well. The biggest barrier to getting those around us to think is the fact that many of us have stopped thinking ourselves. Put a meeting with yourself on the schedule each day, sit alone at lunch, or keep a journal by your bed and write down thoughts each night before bed. Whatever your strategy, just make sure to do something that will give you time to think and develop ways to push others around you to do the same. Making people think is the fastest way to get to the final rule for becoming compelling; and that is where the true power is as a leader.
The last part is important: make people feel something. Leaving people wanting more and getting them to think is a good start, but without feeling, the compelling factors will soon be forgotten. Too often people roam the world without any sense of purpose or any feeling in their soul–your job is to do something about this reality.
It is no mystery why great leaders of social ventures are able to get very talented interns to work for very little money. Is it because they love the new office building? Probably not. Is it because they want to one day own the company? Not likely. Or is it because they get paid the “big bucks?” No, it is none of these. The simple answer is that they are compelled to the leader because the leader was able to ignite strong feelings for the cause they are working toward–whether it be addressing inequalities in education, fighting hunger, or empowering women in developing countries. So take a lesson from great social entrepreneurs everywhere–be compelling by making your team feel something much more important and powerful than you as a single person. Be the bridge between them and making a real difference and real impact in the world. Their subconscious mind will love you for it and when you reach this level, they will walk through fire for you and your organization.
In the end, you must be compelling. While it isn’t rocket science, it takes discipline and commitment. So remember: be a bit mysterious, push yourself and others to think, and set fire to feelings inside of people to take your abilities (and your team) to the next level. These skills will make you come alive as a leader and soon enough others will follow.