How To Quickly And Holistically Elevate Your Leadership
It all started with a simple change Bob Glazer wanted to introduce into his life: improving his morning routine.
Fresh from a transformational leadership training, the founder and CEO of global partner marketing agency, Acceleration Partners, resolved to start his day reading something inspirational and positive. The only problem? A lot of what already existed didn’t resonate with him or felt too woo-woo. However, he realized that he had saved a collection of stories and quotes that inspired him in a different way.
As an experiment, Glazer began sending a weekly email to the forty people on his team. He included those stories he had collected, which were inspirational, but also thought-provoking and challenging. He called the emails “Friday Inspiration” with the goal of each message to provide inspiration around the concept of improvement and growth. Glazer hoped to encourage his employees to want to achieve more in all areas of their lives, challenge their self-limiting beliefs, and realize their true potential. He figured that sending them on Friday morning would be an excellent way to start the weekend off on the right foot.
Soon, the emails were shared with those outside the company; colleagues, friends, and family asked to be added to the list. Since the emails were frequently forwarded, Friday Inspiration emails became the Friday Forward newsletter. As that list grew, Glazer decided to open it to anyone who wanted to receive the message.
Little did Glazer realize that in roughly five years, the emailed note would turn into a popular weekly inspirational newsletter that reached over 200,000 individuals and business leaders across 60+ countries.
Glazer knew he was making a difference, but didn’t have clarity about how. After pouring through his writing themes, he quickly discovered patterns that highlighted four elements of capacity building. These served as the framework that Glazer credits with changing his life, growing his business, and improving the lives of employees and strangers. This framework is explained in his bestselling book, Elevate. And in his new, soon-to-be-released book Friday Forward: Inspiration and Motivation to Help End Your Week Stronger Than It Started, Glazer shares fifty-two of his favorite stories from his newsletter of the same name.
Recently, I had a chance to talk with Bob about his books, the interconnectedness of our spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional lives, the importance of knowing what we want, and building capacity to maximize our leadership potential.
Amy Blaschka: In the forward written by Stewart Friedman for Elevate, he states that “there are thought leaders who bring great talent and rich experience to bear on articulating wisdom that rests on understanding that leadership in business is no longer just about business, it’s about life. Bob Glazer is one such thinker.” Why is it important for people to view leadership in a much more holistic way?
Bob Glazer: To attract talent going forward, you need to make it compelling for them. Leaders need to drop the attitude of “you should feel privileged to work here’”—that’s part of a playbook from three generations ago, and it’s not sustainable. If you invest in people and their ability to grow, they will, and your organization will get a lot out of it.
Blaschka: In your book Elevate, you define capacity building as the method by which individuals seek, acquire, and develop the skills and abilities to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of their innate potential. How did you come up with that term?
Glazer: “Capacity building” is an umbrella concept, a way to frame all of the consistent themes I saw emerging from my Friday Forward newsletter. I study and learn from high performers, and found that they all seemed to invest in themselves to build their capacity.
Blaschka: In your book, you’ve said capacity building is not about doing more; it’s about doing more of the right things. What are the “right things?”
Glazer: It comes down to knowing your values and ensuring that you’re able to maintain the energy and relationships to achieve your goals. That means that you’ll likely have to cut out some things and people who don’t support you and invest your energy elsewhere.
Blaschka: Take me through the four elements of your capacity-building framework.
Glazer: Spiritual capacity is about understanding who you are, what you want most, and the standards you want to live by each day. It’s about your core values and how to articulate them.
Intellectual capacity is about how you improve your ability to think, learn, plan, and execute with discipline. I think of it as your operating system.
Physical capacity is your health, well-being, and physical performance. It also takes into account what stresses you out, weighs you down, or accelerates your growth.
Emotional capacity is how you react to challenging situations, your emotional mindset, and the quality of your relationships. It’s also linked to how you adapt to the external factors you can’t control.
Blaschka: How is your framework for growth different from others?
Glazer: The truth is the elements are not different or new, but we’ve created an addressable framework that incorporates all of these in a way that works to interconnect them. When you improve in one area, you begin to improve in all.
For instance, if I suck at difficult conversations (intellectual capacity), I can’t sleep and will stress endlessly about having that dreaded conversation (physical capacity). But if I learn how to do it better, I can have those conversations and not waste time and energy stressing about them. This frees me up to do more of what I want and need to do.
Blaschka: What happens when we focus on one capacity at the expense of the others?
Glazer: It’s really more about figuring out which one is out of whack. Ask yourself is you’re making the same mistakes and not learning, or always moving but never achieving the result you want. Or maybe you’re “successful” by outward standards, but unfulfilled. Those are clues that you need to take a closer look.
Blaschka: What’s the best way for someone to start the process of capacity building? Is there one that’s more important than the others?
Glazer: I’d suggest starting with Spiritual capacity, as it serves the foundation and will help get you going. Those who do the work on this can have breakthroughs that fuel growth in every area of their lives. When you haven’t worked on this, you won’t feel motivated or connected to what you do; you be rudderless and move faster to nowhere.
Blaschka: What are the benefits of building capacity?
Glazer: You can do more with less, and have greater outcomes by expending less energy. I like to use a barbell analogy: when you first start lifting it, it seems really hard, but as you develop that muscle, you’ll find it takes less effort to achieve the results you want.
Blaschka: What happens when we ignore capacity building?
We’re stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel, always busy but never productive.
Blaschka: This is a personal growth framework designed to help you live up to your full potential, but do its effects tend to impact others, too?
Glazer: Yes! We use it as a leadership development framework to help organizations develop better leaders, but in essence, it’s a people development tool. It has the effect of lifting while you climb—as you build your own capacity and achieve more, you develop the ability to help others do the same. It’s a virtuous cycle and benefits everyone involved.
Blaschka: What has been the biggest surprise for you around Elevate or Friday Forward?
Glazer: The impact on people I’ve never met and the notes I get from all over the world. I truly believe that when you give value, you’ll get value back.
Blaschka: If you could pass along one bit of advice or wisdom to others, what would it be?
Glazer: Act earlier! Too many people chose to be comfortable, but they’re not happy, motivated, or fulfilled. Don’t put off what you really want; just start.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Bob Glazer shares his ideas and insights via Friday Forward, a popular weekly inspirational newsletter that reaches over 200,000 individuals and business leaders across 60+ countries. He is the host of the Elevate Podcast, where Bob sits down with leaders, thinkers, and authors to discuss personal growth and helping others live their best lives. Bob is also the author of Elevate, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller, and of the international bestselling book, Performance Partnerships. His new book, Friday Forward: Inspiration and Motivation to Help End Your Week Stronger Than It Started, comes out September 1, 2020.
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