Not “Self-Help”

Recently, I was trying to explain to someone at a networking event, what our company, Newleaf Training and Development do. After listening to my summary, the other person concluded by saying, “Oh, like self-help.

I went on to explain to the person that we don’t teach “self-help” — we really remind people in our seminars, keynotes, coaching and online work, of principles that when we align our behaviors with, tend to yield us better results for ourselves and with others.

Principles exist outside of us; they’re objective, timeless and are universal. We teach principles such as servant leadership, the Golden Rule and how a team must have a vision bigger than itself else or will perish. Conversely, some training companies teach techniques which are the opposite of principles — they’re subjective, temporal and will not resonate with all people.

When I consider the role of leadership and how emotional intelligence (EQ) can help leaders better manage themselves and influence others, I realize a focus on “self” can actually be the worst thing a leader can do. So it’s “self-help” that can cause problems as a leader, whereas an alignment with principles can significantly and sustainably help.

See, if as a leader I focus on “self”, it makes me “selfish”. Whereas, if as a leader, I focus on being of service to others while still holding people accountable in the ways agreed, I align with principles that when consistently and genuinely applied, will yield better results as a leader. I literally, as a leader am able to turn the pyramid upside down and see myself as a servant to others.

This is hard to do as a leader, when the traditional model we’re surrounded by, is to lord it over others — you know, the mindset and the language of, “I’m the boss, you’re not, do as I say or else.” This doesn’t work with people. Talented people won’t hang around poor leadership that focuses on the Unholy Trinity of me, myself and I. Conversely, talented people are attracted to men and women of high character and high competence who focus on bringing out the best in others. Emotionally intelligent leaders literally become talent magnets.

So I tried again, explaining to the person I was conversing with, what we do: “No, we don’t teach self-help. If anything we encourage leaders to minimize self and to focus on bringing out the very best in others. Just as a good gardener, helps his garden bloom by providing the right environment — for example, enough light, water and space while sometimes needing to prune, weed and replant, so a good leader can help his or her team blossom.”

The other person thought about what I’d said for a few seconds and then responded, “Oh I think I get it now…so you do more like Tony Robbins-type stuff.” I immediately realized I couldn’t convince my listener anymore clearer about what we do and thought I’d have some fun, so I responded, “I suppose you could say that – yes, just like Tony Robbins but without the foul language.” The other person asked for one of my business cards and said he’d contact me about coming in to his organization to “pump up the troops”.

I’m not sure I’ll ever hear from him again but at least he helped me understand more clearly that we teach principles and not techniques to bring out the best in others.

Leave a Reply