Believe The Best About Your Staff and Inspire Greatness

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

This might seem obvious in print but what about in practice? A part of inspiring greatness is not accepting mediocrity and underperformance. Before you get to know your team, their limits, and stretch them out of their comfort zone, plant seeds of optimism and a vision of excellence. 
Generosity Matters – Give Cheerfully to Those Who Need It
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali
Did you know that over the course of his life, Muhammad Ali has supported over 19 charities & foundations and at least 20 causes? These causes range from Abuse to Parkinson’s Disease to Homelessness. Giving of your time and finances to those in need is a key indicator of leadership potential. It says “I’m grateful for the opportunities I have given and I realize that not everyone is so fortunate.” Not only that, generosity has proven psychological and physical benefits for the giver. Charity activates the reward center in your brain, improves your life satisfaction, reduces your rate of stress, and more. Why not consider using some of your PTO days for service opportunities and donating a part of your bonus to a non-profit organization doing great work in your local community?
Don’t Overlook the Little Things: Take Care of Yourself
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
– Muhammad Ali
When it comes to the topic of personal development, It’s hard to argue with a man who won 61 professional fights – 37 by knock out. Ask any personal trainer you know and they’ll emphasize the importance of stretching your muscles, getting enough water in your diet, and a good night’s rest. These “little” things matter for your workout goals and your performance in the boardroom.
Health Benefits of Stretching, Drinking Water, and Resting:
  • Stretching reduces risk of injury and increases blood flow to your brain.
  • Drinking 8 cups of water a day relieves fatigue, improves mood, and flushes out harmful toxins.
  • Getting a good night’s rest can improve memory retention, mood, and decrease the stress hormone cortisol that promotes weight gain.
Instead of Punishing Failure, Promote Resiliency
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”- Muhammad Ali
No one is perfect, and even robots make mistakes. When you’re leading your team, use moments of failure as lessons to be learned. I once worked for a company that had the following quote as a key to success “Mistakes are lessons to be learned, we must never learn the same lesson twice.” Invest time and resources in your team members when/if they make a mistake. Spending the time to help that person bounce back can not only improve their confidence but help your organization be more productive in the end.

Don’t be afraid to challenge – and change – your company culture
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali
One of the biggest employee engagement killers is hearing “well, this is the way it’s always been done.” Your business and your team are both living, breathing, evolving units and there are many factors that impact the way you work. Everything has an influence on the way you work/ From new technologies, to labor regulation changes, to cultural influences, and of course the changing needs of your customers. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your processes from time to time and evaluate how effective they are.
You can’t cheat hard work and expect great results
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
Yes, leaders should be seeking efficiency, but not at the sake of being thorough. No matter your industry, there’s an element of sweat, hustle, and perseverance that comes into play when pursuing goals. Ali knew this. As the leader, you can inspire hard work by recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of your team and by establishing your own reputation of having a great work ethic. 
Value Diverse Perspectives, Backgrounds, and Cultures 
“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”
Although Ali won 61 professional fights, his biggest fights were waged outside the ring. He did not always have a popular approach to racial and economic unity but what’s important to glean from his beliefs is that respect for one another should win the day. That message of mutual respect is one that will take you far as a leader of a diverse team. Diversity is not just about color – it includes age, gender, geographic background and many other differences.