How many frogs do you have to eat to become a leader?
Can anyone be a leader? Are you born a leader or can you learn to be a leader?
In the employment landscape, leadership is a term used regularly as a valued skill and must-have to advance in the work world. Job posts are searching for candidates with leadership qualities; industry conferences are dedicated to the subject of leadership – being leaders, developing leaders, leading by example, etc.
We recently sat down with Prosum co-CEO Ravi Chatwani about tapping into our human potential on our path to leadership. It’s a fascinating concept applied to our career endeavors that is also a welcome departure from many of the more common, corporate-driven sessions that illustrate trends, margins, and projections. Chatwani steps back and embraces the human side of what we do every day, specifically how we build leaders or more importantly, inspire employees to be self-leaders first, to transform what their personal and professional futures could look like.
Having completed a graduate degree in engineering, Ravi Chatwani sought logic, proof and research in his early attempts to understand and learn leadership at Prosum. What he uncovered was a spectrum of leadership traits and abilities, all of which can be applied to the many facets of our lives: family, parenting, community, work, and more.
In searching for a good definition of leadership, Chatwani landed on this:
“Leadership is inspiring your organization to take responsibility for creating a better future.”
‘inspiring’ instead of being told what to do
‘organization’ could include family or team
‘responsibility’ for its reference to having the authority
‘creating’ for its freedom and feeling of contribution
‘future’ for its possibility given an extended outlook
During his quest, one key insight stood out: before assuming the role of a leader among our peers, it’s beneficial, even necessary, to first become a leader of ourselves, essentially becoming a self-leader. The foundation of self-leadership lies in assuming personal responsibility and modeling that behavior with our teammates.
Consider an office receptionist, someone not necessarily tasked with team management, yet capable of redefining their role. A receptionist’s role can be elevated by implementing an efficient office supply ordering system, allocating office budget to prioritize productivity, and fostering a more personalized visitor welcome experience. Taking accountability for these actions demonstrates a sense of personal responsibility that can accelerate personal growth. The ability to engage with clients, prioritize communication, and manage time while meaningfully assisting colleagues showcases a receptionist’s commitment to organizational accountability and the development of leadership skills.
We all, at every level, whether we are managing people or not, can learn to be a self-leader. And there are many ways to practice this…
Like eating frogs, for one.
A Steady Diet of — Frogs?
Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This turned into the idiom and book title “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy, who wrote about the concept that if one had to eat a live frog first thing in the morning each and every day, that would probably be the hardest task they had to do, and one can find that every other task would seem easy by comparison.
What’s the one more difficult item on your list? The one item you’ve been procrastinating to complete? The tough e-mail, the tough conversation, the tough physical activity. This represents our frog, and we can prioritize eating that frog first thing in the morning.
For Ravi Chatwani, coffee comes first and then he goes off to eat his frog. For others, they might eat their frog at 7:00 AM sharp. And it seems this was an easy concept to embrace. As Ravi recalls,
“At Prosum, there was a time when we were all in the office where I would be having a conversation in the morning with a team member. And I could say, because we all followed this, ‘Hey, I haven’t eaten my frog yet. Could you give me a minute? And then I’ll come talk to you afterward.’ And my team member would answer ‘Oh, I already ate my frog. Of course. Ravi, go, go eat your frog.’
I typically chose my frog the night before. I would focus on the most difficult and important task for which I’ve been procrastinating, and I would knock it out that morning. You then learn that some people are knocking two frogs out every morning.
It’s a quick, relatable example of self-leadership and self-governing to tackle our more difficult tasks first.”
Why did eating the frog catch on?
Because one soon realizes the benefit it offers to help get them through the day. If you delay your most difficult tasks to the very last minute, you are working on an energy deficit. By front-loading your most difficult assignments and eating frogs each morning, you are hyper-focusing your attention at a time when you have good mental sharpness, good physical health, and good awakedness, that in turn creates the spark needed to help you accelerate through the rest of your tasks for the day.
Self-Leadership is The Catalyst to the Leadership Our Organizations Seek
As Ravi Chatwani reiterated, self-leadership presents itself in many ways; however, it always harkens back to taking responsibility as well as putting in the effort to develop and hone skills that will help you grow as a leader. There are some people who while they may be naturally charismatic, if they don’t actively work on self-leadership skills may fall short of being a leader in a tough business situation. Conversely, someone who leans towards an introverted learning style and devotes time to grasping the intricacies of leadership can still attain and cultivate the necessary skills for becoming an effective leader. For instance, this cultivated readiness might enable them to excel in spontaneous discussions by harnessing their authentic curiosity and adept question-asking abilities, potentially surpassing a naturally charismatic individual who possesses these traits innately.
As Prosum continues to explore the concept of leadership and tapping into our human potential for leadership development, look for the next installments in this series. And in the meantime, eat that frog! Share your stories at #eatthatfrogprosum.
Ravi Chatwani has shared the concept of Tapping into Human Potential with a wide range of audiences, including local businesses, leadership teams, and universities, to inspire and expose working teams to the various ways they can grow as leaders in both their personal and professional lives. Engaging and uplifting, yet practical and actionable, Ravi’s narrative of his own journey towards leadership strikes a chord with his listeners, leaving them motivated and enthusiastic to chart their paths for greater leadership development.