Wonder why this photo has no one sitting at the table? Because this meeting’s success or failure will be largely determined before it happens—thanks to each attendee’s pre-existing paradigms. A paradigm derives from the Greek words para which means “along side” and deiknunai which means “to show.” Therefore, employees will have pre-existing paradigms based upon what they’ve already seen, heard and compared. Chances are this meeting will be a success or failure before it ever begins based upon what goes on outside the meeting.

It’s been often said that leaders should “lead by example.” I believe this is a complete oxymoron. Bad leaders or even absentee leaders are still leading by example, albeit a poor one. Who would you rather work for—someone who believed in the cause and instilled teamwork toward agreed upon goals, or someone who exhibited negativity and/or Teutonic control? The last time I checked, only automatons may not care, but people have feelings and want to be led by positive example. Employees are highly intuitive and are rarely fooled by fake authenticity over time.

So as you lead any organization, be it a major corporation or non-profit organization, a division, or even a small department, check your gut and ask yourself if you are living your life in crescendo. This doesn’t mean that your life is perfect—far from it. It does mean that you are happy or grateful to be “in the moment” and making a difference, whether it is large or small, and that you are doing the best you can in what you are doing.

I attended an industry conference last month where Seth Godin conducted an exercise with a room full of CEOs.  He asked each one of them to raise their hand “as high as they possibly could.” Everyone responded by sticking their hand high in the air. Then he commanded, “Now raise it higher!” Everyone quickly raised the same hand several inches higher. It’s a human trait to put forth an acceptable effort for what is asked—nothing more. But if you want to be a truly effective leader, work among the troops with a big grin on your face, while raising your hand as high as you can in one way or another. Your team will soon be working together in crescendo.

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