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Davis Journal

Become a more effective leader by ‘finding your why’

Sep 09, 2022 10:08AM ● By Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE—Being a good leader is more than just telling people what to do but rather creating an environment where work is something they want to do – not just something they have to do. Motivational speaker and trainer David Mead calls it “finding your why,” a way for leaders to make positive changes for themselves that in turn makes a difference in the way employees approach their jobs. Mead shared his philosophy at a recent Davis Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“Be the kind of person that actually brings this to life,” said Mead. “Until you develop character nothing is going to change.” 

Mead shared the story of a study done by behavioral scientists in the 70s about men who were training to become priests. “They asked what their motivation was to become a priest, who they are and what they believe in,” he said. “They told them they were doing a sermon based on the Good Samaritan in a recording studio with their professors. Researchers placed a man pretending to be ill on the path to the studio, then they told different groups how much time they had to get to the studio.” 

The first group was told they had plenty of time to leave, said Mead. “The second group was told they were on time and the third was told you’re late you have to get there as soon as possible.”

They found that 63 percent of the early group stopped to help, he said. “Forty-five percent of the on time group stopped and only 10 percent of the late group stopped.”

   These are people who are all studying to become priests, Mead said. “They literally stepped over this guy to get to a sermon on helping their fellowman. What we learn from this study is that people have certain expectations but there’s a mismatch between expectations and actions.”

Expectation plus experience equals trust, he said. “If the expectations others set for us don't match, trust is difficult to maintain. When it is maintained trust is created. Organizations say ‘we put people first’ but then do things that don’t line up with the way they talk. They don’t show up so it’s a mismatch.”

Becoming an incredible leader takes honesty, humility and humanity, said Mead. “It is a way of being. We can’t define ourselves as honest or humble. It’s only true of us when others attribute or describe these things about you. Are our actions in line with what we believe? Honesty is living in line with what you stand for.”

First look at values as a verb, he said. “Do the right thing even when nobody’s looking. When I walk through a door I repeat my values, repeat, repeat, repeat. Throughout the year I’m reminding myself what my values are. It’s stuff you’re already doing, just tack that onto it.”

There are two elements to humility, Mead said. “We need to recognize our weaknesses without getting defensive. Have a healthy relationship with your ego.”

Be a humbly confident leader, he said. “Our ability and experience is of great use to other people. Help them rise, not just yourself. Do anything that reminds you you’re not the center of the universe. Put yourself aside and your needs.”

Humanity is a genuine care and concern for the human experience, said Mead. “Show people they are valued and that you know who they are and that you see them. How might your life be different if you more fully embodied these three traits? You would have more purpose, more trust and connection.”

People don’t like to hang out where they don’t feel like they belong, he said. “If they hate their job what does that do to their well being? When leaders practice these three things consistently it builds trust, growth increases and productivity goes up and it’s a more meaningful way to live.” λ