I don’t want to be that leader that made you do it. That’s just asking to be resented. I definitely don’t want to be that leader who thinks that they are the be-all and end-all. I’d also like to avoid being the leader who’s in that position just because they deserve it and their stance signifies their power, authority, or social status.

Can I be that leader that people decided to follow because they benefit from it? The person that they listen to because they want to know what I’m saying, not because they know they have to follow my rules. Can I also be that person that people feel akin to? The one that relates to them, even though they come from different backgrounds? The one that evokes positive emotions, inspiration, and hope. Can it feel like I’m speaking just to you? Directly connecting to something that matters to you?

That’s the plan Stan.

I would like to be like this guitar.

This guitar can send a message. It can tell a story. It can change people. It commands an audience without coersion. I would like to do that. The guitar is an instrument, and I would like to be instrumental.

Instruments use what they have to make a song come to life. I would like to do the same for my movement, my ideas. People who are very opposed to your genre of music won’t listen to you play, but they typically won’t despise you for committing to the genre. On the other hand, one instrument can play the same notes, the notes that you want it to play, in so many different ways. A guitar can play the blues, it can rock heavy, it can strum a gentle melody, or it could even pull off an intricate Spanish progression. The guitar can get it’s song across to a variety of audiences in a variety of situations. I would like to be able to still convey the emotion and the message that I desire, but convey it in a way that the audience can feel and understand. That is what an instrument would do. It has the ability to connect with individuals on a personal level, even if it’s playing to a crowd. That is how I would like to generate my following.

That’s one way to lead, like a guitar. Some people would prefer to Lead like a designer.

Design thinking and leadership have parallels in nearly every aspect. I could go ahead and say that about numerous things that we encounter day to day. I could talk about how puddle jumping or sauteing broccoli has a connection to leadership strategies or tehniques. I think, however, that does not discount the connection and applications of cross disciplinary thinking with leadership. What it does suggest is that looking at leadership through a lens that applies human activities and our basic nature can be beneficial in shaping our leadership perspectives.

Evidently I was drawn to human cenredness and empathy aspects of design thinking with regards to leadership. Designers know that the purpose of a design, any product, structure, design, or idea, is to ultimately interact with humans. It isn’t all about the business model. The design has to fulfill a function. It has to connect to a person or solve one of their problems.

As leaders, who would we lead if not humans? We aren’t formulating strategy and preparing to calculate the ability to lead an army of automatons. At least not in this decade. I’m talking design thinking, not engineering. This is leadership, not an internal combustion engine. If our motives and our movements aren’t human centered, they won’t be productive. In order to gain momentum, we have to understand what people stand to gain from our movement. Designers certainly have that correct. A simple way to be a human centric leader is to empathize. Leaders are people too after all. It helps to really understand both the problems that your movement will solve for people, and the problems that people will have with your movement.

Design thinking found new ways to help designers and leaders connect to those potential human issues. Inspiration. If the root of our solution, our movement or design, comes from observing people, resulting with a human centered product becomes inevitable. If I had started out with an idea, without first figuring out what’s in it for people, I might as well have requested failure.

Not many people might consider starting out with a blank slate and observing in order to get inspiration, a viable option. We all start out with preconceptions that cloud and influence all of our future decisions. Experiencing life from a completely different perspective allows for less bias and the potential for something fresh and useful. We aren’t trying to solve problems for ourselves, so why would our own perspectives be sufficient? Without observation and external influence, a leader is just a loner. For people who strive to be leaders, but are stuck as loners, I think inspiration within design thinking could be transformational.

Not only is inspiration the most helpful, I think it’s the most challenging. I certainly don’t know what I’m looking for. I think the problem is that I look for things that I’ve already seen.

Here’s to noticing the dustbunnies that you’ve been avoiding looking at in hopes that they would clean themselves!

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