1000+ MEMBERS THROUGH LEADERSHIP AND FREEDOM
Bangkok BNI Global Convention November,2018
In BNI, we’ve become quite skilled on the fundamentals as well as on many technical aspects, but these are not enough to lead the organization towards the success we are aiming at in the next few years. A different outcome will depend on our leadership and on the environment we can create.
Our Mission is not about building chapters. Our Mission is about creating a greater economy, prosperity and well-being. This is why our focus is on creating empowering environments of entrepreneurial fervor (energy) that stimulate growth and entrepreneurship. It’s like creating our local Stanford University or Italian Renaissance.
Leadership and freedom are deeply connected à a strong leadership grants more freedom to you and to others at the same time.
How can we create an environment with strong leadership and great freedom people can feel involved in?
1. break down physical and conceptual barriers
in order to
2. inspire and engage people at all levels
3. leave space for people to take up roles and make their contribution
Leadership and freedom create a virtuous circle thanks to continuous, circular feedback: the more we create freedom and leaders grow all around us, the more our leadership will be acknowledged and we will feel free.
We do not want to control people, neither can we. To grow and impact the local communities we must spread culture and systems, inspire people and create a machine that works by itself.
Lessons we learned about Leadership and Success in BNI
1. Break down physical and conceptual barriers
Our focus is on the BNI Region. The chapter is only an access point to BNI. A new chapter is a regional project, training sessions are regional, launches and networking events are regional, retention activities are regional. Members are invited to visit the other chapters to gain inspiration, create relationships and bring their contribution, in line with the Givers Gain philosophy. Members joining active chapters are invited to visit at least one core group to learn how a chapter is created and offer their contribution (guests/relations). There are no closed-door meetings: all activities, ranging from infomeetings to launch events, to training sessions to Director and Ambassador meetings are open to all chapter and core group members alike. Periodically, chapters organize conjoint meetings with 2-3 chapters.
2. Inspire and engage people at all levels
Leadership means that people follow us to achieve what THEY want. People are looking for their own place in the world. Our role as leaders is to inspire them, orient them and give them a space in which they can shine.
PLATINUM RULE: treating others as THEY want to be treated. But… be careful! People do not know what they do not know. People know very well what they do not want, but often they do not know what they want.
Do not accept anti-leaders. Food for thought: we learnt that often anti-leaders are just leaders who did not find their own space; always try to engage them before letting them go.
3. Leave space for people to take up roles and make their contribution
Ambassadors are a key success factor. Ambassadors operate regionally, everyone with a specific task, for example supporting core groups or as mentor coordinators, gold members club coordinators, as visitor day experts, president of presidents, president of vice-presidents, president of secretaries, Business Voices representatives at chapter and area level. We have Ambassador teams in charge of organizing the main events in the Region: a team for the gala dinner, a team for the annual Business Voices event.
Moreover, we supported individual member initiatives that have become regional projects, such as the BNI Bikers Group and the trade bridge connecting Piemonte Sud with Israel, international chapter meeting with members of Italy and France.
4. Create a Vision and communicate at Vision level
Create a Vision at all levels: Nation, Region, Area, Chapter. It’s Vision that moves people, not problems or to do lists. Talk about your vision and mission, tell people what the future is going to be like and explain what it means to Change the way the world does business.
Always go ahead and let your Vision pave the way. We celebrate achievements, we gratify people, we reflect on failures but we always go forward.
5. Stimulate a success-oriented mindset
What matters is not being right, it’s being successful. Learn from success and not from failure. People want to belong to successful organizations and projects and they want successful leaders. Cultivate a success-oriented mindset and tell success stories.
6. Be bold in leading the organization
The future is not created by opinion makers or based on customer opinions. We are leaders, we see things ahead of other people and time. People come to BNI to change things and bring their limits to the organization. Let’s fight the sales mode and teach the relational mode. Directors should guide members in overcoming their limits, not indulge, at all levels in BNI.
7. Expect performance from yourself and from others, to protect the environment
If we want a successful environment around us, we need to protect it. Our primary responsibility is to protect the project, not the single individual. It’s true that relationships come first, but only as long as they are not jeopardizing the project, because the project is our common goal, which protects the organization’s values.
8. Impact the local community
The worth of an organization is tightly connected with its impact on the local community. We learned an important lesson: we don’t impact the local community because we have become big enough. We have become big because we impacted the local community.
We impact the local communities in at least 3 important ways:
a) Impact on business owners’ mindset – We consider this a social impact because business owners’ mindset is the foundation inspiring the local community’s mindset. BNI business owners discover collaboration and teamwork.
b) Impact on the system as a whole – Everyone is welcome to a BNI meeting. We often host representatives of institutions, schools, religious and other types of organizations.
c) Impact with the Business Voices program. Business Voices has triggered a true revolution in our regions. With Business Voices we bring our culture to schools and children, creating the most amazing, unimaginable impact.
Monica Passini & Dario Castagna