Published on Forbes 11/13/2013
Stedman Graham shared with us that leadership is an inside job.
For those of you unfamiliar with Stedman, he is an educator, author, businessman, and speaker. He is also widely known as the partner of media mogul Oprah Winfrey. It turns out that he and I were good friends and admirers of the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey and our philosophies align in many areas.
Stedman is also a fellow entrepreneur. He consults and speaks about his program, the Nine-Step Success Process throughout the U.S. and internationally. That program is available online, through a partnership with the University of Phoenix, or through onsite presentations to corporate organizations. Stedman will also soon embark on a three-city tour through South Africa to discuss his Identity Leadership concept, which teaches that a strong personal identity is the foundation for strong leadership.
We spoke with Stedman about the principles I share in our book, The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning.
In light of our common foundations, we wanted to find out what is the best way for a principle-based leader to lead.
Here’s what Stedman had to say. We share his words here with his permission.
Becoming a Transformational Agent
“Be careful of the spoken word because it reveals your thoughts. Everybody has the power, but not everyone has the opportunity, to transform and to also be a transformational agent to influence people based on one word; that’s love. Once you have that, you can transform your whole life.
“You can transform any anger, any rage. Attitude changes as the result of that one word.”
Courage is the Greatest Virtue
“Courage is the greatest of the virtues. We need to believe in ourselves and our country, and to focus on treating our neighbors the right way, and loving and caring for people.”
“Can you give leaders some examples of ways we can demonstrate and show high courage and love in the workplace?”
“You don’t have to wear it on your sleeve. But you have to practice it within yourselves. Like Gandhi, you need to become the change you see in the world. “It is better for you to share love with other people and to demonstrate it not by saying it, but by helping where you need to help out… You can carry a positive attitude and a good tone with the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and to stay late and help to focus on a project at hand.
“Be trustworthy in your relationships. Be thoughtful. Have empathy, and align yourselves within your teams to a common vision. Putting those elements together for the betterment of the organization will have an impact on your profit margins. As Dr. Covey was known for saying, you need to focus on the ‘win-win.’
“A spirit of cooperation allows you to stay on the cutting edge. You should also focus on loving yourself. When a team of people is able to align themselves within the same mission and cause, everyone can produce at an optimum level, which makes for a successful business and a successful life.”
Creating Your Identity
“Students are coming to school not knowing their ABCs. There are entire lives thrown away for the lack of organizations that can help them in the creation of an identity that recognizes their passions and strengths and allows them to create a positive focus around the things that they love.
“I spend my life in the process of intervention—helping all participants, but, perhaps most importantly, helping our youth to define and create a strong identity. What I am teaching them is in direct opposition to allowing the forces of culture and tradition that surround them—the outward labels such as gender, education, and ethnicity—to define the identities they hold.
“I’m working within our program, the Nine Steps of Success, to help them redefine the identities that can serve as the foundation for everything they do and what they create.”
Getting the Word Out
We discussed our company’s CAM Foundation, with a focus on digital literacy programs, and on providing support for Native Americans, which is a cause that is dear to our hearts.
At the end of our visit, Stedman had a question for us: “How can we get the word out about this? And how can I help?”
Perhaps this column can serve as a start. I and several members of our team at Fishbowl have enrolled in the Nine Steps to Success program. It is easy and convenient to enter, and the cost is just $49.
We invite other entrepreneurs and leaders to take this opportunity as well, and we look forward to reporting our results in a future column. We also look forward to continuing our conversations with this tremendous educator and entrepreneur. Thank you, Stedman Graham.