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10 Leadership Lessons Drawn from My Travels Around the World – Part 4

By Samuel Kim

The fourth in the five-part series, I have shared, so far, these six of the ten leadership lessons I have gained in my exposure to various forms of leadership, traveling around the world. They are: “Leadership” means…

1. Paying attention to how the world is changing.

2. Asking the questions that will matter tomorrow. 

3. Knowing what matters to people. 

4. Being aware of and managing one’s own ignorance and arrogance. 

5. Doing the right things. 

6. Using the head, hands, and heart. 

The next two I would like to share are: “Leadership” means…

7. Helping people see what they need to know and learn. 

When we recognize and honor the dictates of our hearts, we develop the capacity to help ourselves and our communities. A vision means little if it can’t galvanize others to reach beyond what they currently know and do. But realizing a vision requires leaders to communicate with the heart. It’s not unusual to see authority figures speaking from the head, which often results in a gap between their ideas and what their community needs to hear, learn, and know. When leaders don’t connect with their listeners, they not only fail to move people toward their desired destination but can also sow confusion, conflict, and dissent.

I’ve always wondered why people respond to authenticity. In recent years I’ve realized that being authentically vulnerable disarms people. When people encounter genuineness, truth, authenticity, it’s as if a switch is flipped, and in most cases, they respond with an eagerness to do the right things. Their hearts, infallible compasses, respond to the authentic leader’s call and point in the right direction. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. 

Sadly, leaders who understand the value of authenticity are rare. In our age of Industry 4.0, there is an expectation for ever faster progress, more profit, more efficiency. Yet authenticity, which helps people gain awareness of what they need to learn and how to tackle their challenges, is a more important and far nobler undertaking.  

8. Daring to put yourself out there. 

You can also communicate with the heart by sharing your passion. Since establishing the Center in 2014, I have made it my life’s mission to share with others what gets me up every morning, what makes my life worth living. At this point, I’ve talked about my passion to more than 42,000 people throughout Asia. 

Many come up to me afterward and say that I have inspired them and shone a light on the path we all need to take. Others have welcomed me into their homes and asked me to mentor them, give advice, or even mediate in conflicts that are tearing their communities apart. I’ve learned that when you put yourself out there and share a personal part of yourself, you inspire trust and people are moved to do the same. Trust inspires trust.  Our small team at the Center is a powerhouse of talent and teamwork, able to run programs in 83 cities in 31 countries in the past six years. We reach an estimated 7,000 people per year through our programs, and that in itself is a great source of pride. But, to be honest, my deepest fulfillment comes from the times when I’m able to touch someone else’s life on a personal level. Being part of another person’s leadership journey is by far the most profound privilege I’ve experienced, second only to being a husband and father. And none of this would be possible without communicating with the heart.