Invitation as a Leadership Tool
As a person who’s been a chef and wine lover for over 30 years, one look at me, and it’s obvious - I love food and drink.
About six years ago, I had the first invitation from my coach to look at my body and age and do some math. Pretty compelling I must say, but not compelling enough to make any life changes.
Maybe six months after that, when the moment was right, my coach invited me to a yoga class. I really liked it and have kept some form of yoga up since. It improved my body in terms of a little weight loss, and some toning. Mostly, I liked how it made me feel.
Since that day six years ago, my coach has been gentle and relentless about it, every time I would mention something about my physical appearance, he would gently invite me to a different state of being, one more in line with what I wanted, mostly to not feel fat.
At some point, he asked me if I would like to live in a body I loved, hmmm... that was compelling enough for me to take some action, albeit slow. I limited my diet and wine consumption and started to feel it, I adopted a habit of looking at myself in the mirror naked every morning and actively loving a part of me.
It was incremental, almost invisible, but little shifts started happening, I became 90% vegetarian, took up Core Power Yoga... and started to see better results.
Today, I am not as thin as I hope to be but, the journey to live in a body I love is continuing. I am now (for about three months) a bona fide vegan and can see muscles in my stomach I’ve never seen before. And I love them. An added benefit has been a new source of resilience in the face of self-doubt, loving my body – which translates into loving myself.
The art of that invitation is easy to spell out. The magic of it is internal alignment. A well-thought-out invitation actually creates space for me to envision what I want, and take some action towards it.
Invitation as a leadership tool takes courage and patience. Courage because, as the one doing the inviting, I have to sift out all the stuff I don’t want from the stuff I do want, and then stick to language and behaviors that communicate what it is I do want. My coach already had the body that he loved, he could see how to do it, but he didn’t tell me that. He stayed gentle and positive, but never let it go.
What I learned sometime later in coaching, is that there are steps to making a compelling invitation. Once I saw these steps, it made perfect sense to me. I’ve always been fairly good at the first three steps, but haven’t always thought of them in this order. The final step, to me, is magic. It gives me permission to not make the perfect invitation, but to keep perfecting one.
Step 1. What’s the big picture here?
Paint the biggest picture you can think of.
Step 2. Why did I choose you?
Be specific here: Why, specifically do I want you in it?
Step 3. What’s in it for you?
Spell out what you think they will get out of it - again, be specific. Also, be willing for them to see something you haven’t seen and add it.
Step 4. Persistence
You never know what state of mind someone is in the moment you first invite them, and you may not use exactly the right words. Be willing to update your invitation with new information and invite again.
If you’re anything like me, you are interested in trying new ways to lead.
Invitations are an extremely powerful way to allow someone to see something bigger - for themselves. This is at the heart of facilitative leadership, making things easier for someone else.
Understanding the power of invitations unlocks a whole new way to generate desire in others. If I work for you, and we discover that we desire the same thing, then you don’t need to manage me and your energy is freed up to create more of the things you want.
My invitation to you...
Practice this invitation, try it on at least three people you have a vision for.
Please come back and add comments on how it went, others can benefit from your learning and vice versa.
If you would like further help with the art of invitation, please reach out to me, sometimes it’s helpful to bounce these off others for the “Compelling” check.