Think about your current leader or supervisor.

What thoughts or feelings immediately surface for you? Does this person inspire you? Are you excited to spend time with her sharing new ideas and working toward a common vision; or do you dread every interaction? Does she give you energy or suck the life out of you; or perhaps its somewhere in-between?


I’m guessing it was easy to assess your leader’s impact on you. If you’ve been in the work world for a while and had several leaders, it doesn’t take long to figure out if the current one is one you truly want to follow or whether you are going to have to pull from your own energy resources to find inspiration.

Most of us instinctively sum up a relationship based on past history, categorize it and expect the same from that person in the future. Guess what? From that stance, that’s all we’ll ever be able to experience from her. This is a great example of getting what we focus on. Once we have developed a narrow perception of another person, it takes intention to see the individual outside of that mental model. If your experience of your leader is positive, that’s not a bad thing. If your experience of your leader is negative, it will wear you down.

Whether your current experience of your leader is positive or negative, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on her gifts and talents. Every human being has beauty and gifts. It is there to see, if you look for it. What is it about her that is unique and special? Make time to focus on her gifts before every planned interaction and those gifts will reveal themselves to you in an even bigger way.

People will never change when we set out to change them, but science has shown that magnificence springs from people when we focus on their gifts. Perhaps you’ve heard of the research done by Rosenthal (R. Rosenthal, 1991) documenting the fact that the intelligence of randomly selected children increased when their classroom teachers were told that the children were gifted. The childrens’ intelligence increased, as measured through an IQ test, because the teacher was looking for their gifts.

Remember, you get what you focus on. Look for the best in your leader and others and you will find it in abundance.

Source: R Rosenthal, Journal of Research in Education, 1(1991): 3-12