V :: VIRUS :: make your idea contagious

Everything in Leadership starts with BIG IDEA.

I will repeat it as many times as I can because I think it’s essential.
If you are a leader you should have a stand, a vision, a big picture of the desired end state to inspire people to follow.

Most of the true followers stand by your side not because of you, not because of what you do, but because of why you do it. There is a big idea behind every extraordinary example of leadership, whether it’s a brand, an ideological theory or a movement.

And if you want to make it work,
your idea needs to be a virus.


[Model of a Virus by eviltomthai on flickr]

J :: JEWELLERY :: how much do the titles matter?

I’ve met many people in AIESEC who are too much concerned about positions, name of these positions and especially sound and big titles. We actually do like big titles, every other AIESECer is a “president” of something.

Of course it’s quite important to have a cool name of your position especially for your CV and later on when you will go for a job interview you’ll probably feel proud that you were “president” and “vice-president” while being 20-something years old.

As a part of my 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership,
I’d like to share what I personally think of all our positions and titles:

They are like beads on a necklace.

[necklaces by Vilseskogen, on Flickr]

C :: COCOON :: an underestimated state of a leader

This was a personal letter to my successor, next President of AIESEC in Macedonia, as an introduction to the transition booklet. With slight modifications I introduce one more idea of 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership:

So, you’ve got a leadership position? Congratulations! I can easily imagine how much anticipation and how many questions fill up your mind right now. But before you start thinking of strategies and plans, just lean back for couple of minutes and imagine yourself as a butterfly.
Actually wait, don’t imagine. It’s a bit too early for being a butterfly, you are now just about to start this transformation journey and this transition guide is just one small piece of support for you. Small, but useful :)

So, imagine…
You are now similar to a big fat green CATERPILLAR.

[Caterpillar by ~worseevil on deviantART]

S :: SUN :: simple idea which once shaped my understanding of leadership

[as a part of 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership]

The SUN does not ask, is it good day to RISE or not. It JUST RISES and GIVES ALL ITS ENERGY to the WORLD. And makes it EVERY DAY.

A sunrise happens every day.
And it can not be differently.
Everybody knows, what the SUN is and what is the importance of the SUN for our planet.
And the Sun fulfills its role 100% effectively. And the Sun makes it EVERY DAY.

When I was applying for Vice-President and later for President of AIESEC in Macedonia, I had that one big and simple idea driving me: I wanted AIESEC to be like a SUNRISE. Meaning, obviously & essentially important and useful for the world.
Sun rises above the Pyramid of the Sun
[Sun rises above the Pyramid of the Sun by Alexander Polezhaev on flickr]

G :: GRAVITATION :: why is it necessary to gain weight?

[as a part of 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership]

Why is it necessary to gain weight? (all the women who are trying to get slim will cry now :P)
According to the laws of physics explaining gravitation, physical bodies attract one another with a force proportional to their mass. In simple words, light objects revolve around the heavy ones.

It happens almost the same way in our life: there is a leader and followers, a planet and satellites. Who are you? I guess many people asking themselves such a question. “Whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right.” Classics.

As I see it, the only difference between the HUMAN and cosmic GRAVITATION is that each person defines and gains own “mass” individually. And this is process, which is constantly going on.

[Divided by !EvilRadius on deviantART]

B :: BLANK PAPER :: the paradoxal power of imagination

[as a part of 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership]

Most of the leadership roles in AIESEC last for one year only. It means that all the main leadership teams of a global organization get into constant rotation, people are coming and leaving, generations are changing very fast. And it happens at all levels of organization, the President of AIESEC International serves just for 1 year too. And usually in spring there is time of “elections fever”, the time when people from all over the world are applying for different roles, filling out the questionnaires, writing endorsement letters to ones to each other, living in the atmosphere of competition in order to select leaders for the next year term.

Several years in a row AIESEC International team application pack consists of CV, Bio, general and position related questions, video, executive summary but also (and most interesting) the Blank Paper Challenge, also known as “Big Idea” file. What’s that?

[Blank by ~Renegadeboy on deviantART]

A :: APPLE :: AIESEC arithmetic for kids

[as a part of 26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership]

This idea got born exactly as “AIESEC and apples”, however my personal passion is oranges and I prefer to explain it on oranges :) In the end of the day, the idea is more or less the same: how to explain global organization to anyone in the most simple way. Like arithmetic for kids.

[red apple by ~girlmarvel on deviantART]

26 ABC metaphors that helped to shape my leadership

Everything in Leadership starts with BIG IDEA.

Somebody calls it vision or ambition, somebody have read in business books about fancy words like mission, BHAG, value proposition etc. All in all it’s about BIG IDEA behind. The one, which Simon Sinek in his famous TED talk called ‘your Why’ (yeah, I love this guy’s theory and I will quote him often!).

I am lucky to be part of global youth network called AIESEC, the non-for-profit independent youth-driven organization which proudly claims to be the one who makes the world a better place.

It was always hard to explain to others what does AIESEC do on every day basis, and what does it actually mean “peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential”, that’s why I was constantly searching for different metaphorical explanations. You don’t explain maths to children using integrals and trigonometric functions, do you? You start with explaining arithmetic with apples and oranges.

Same with abstract concepts like leadership, impact on society, cultural diversity, global youth voice, sustainable behavior etc – why to make them complicated if we can explain them with “apples and oranges”?

BIG IDEA doesn’t need to be complex.