Leading from the Overflow


I was invited by Steex House to speak at their Fusion Talks Leadership seminar series a few weeks ago. I had a great time and my 20 minute seminar focused on the topic: “Leading from the Overflow”. I told the audience that you are only truly effective when you are leading from the overflow. As a leader, you can only give out what you have and if you keep giving without getting refilled then after a while you will be running on empty. Leadership is people oriented and it is draining – psychologically, mentally, physically, and spiritually. The only way to avoid frustration and burn-out is to operate from the overflow. Such leadership has a multiplier effect on those you lead. Everyone you influence is empowered to become a leader or influencer who empowers others.

I used the image above to demonstrate, during the seminar, this multiplier effect. The leader pours from the overflow into his team and they pass it on to others in the organisation. Coaching is one vehicle to channel the overflow throughout the organisation and I will be tackling this in my next blog post. It is important to note that for there to be leadership overflow, there must be continuous inflow as demonstrated in the image above.

I shared several ways with the audience on how I get continuous inflow to become a better leader in both my personal and professional capacity:

• I am an avid reader of business and leadership books. Reading is one of my preferred learning styles. I know not all of you are big voracious fans of books, for instance my wife is not a big fan.
• I read a lot of blogs on the internet – on leadership, communication and design
• I do some journaling once a while based on my readings and reflections.
• I have engaging conversations with others on the issue of leadership.
• I check out online free videos on such conference websites like – TED , Catalyst  and Poptech conferences.
• Spiritually, I get a lot of leadership inspiration from the Bible
• I download and listen to leadership podcasts on my phone e.g. Andy Stanley leadership podcasts are fantastic.
• I also stay up to date by reading business magazines such as Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc etc

What are you doing to ensure there is continuous leadership inflow in your life? I will love to hear some of them on this blog.


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2 Responses to Leading from the Overflow

  1. Emmanuel Tella

    God bless you sir, I was richly blessed by this blog. My question now is, as leaders, can the overflow be a dangerous position to be in sometimes? Reason being is, information overload may cause one to ‘run before learning to crawl’ which may leave others in a predicament, because the skills/abilities have not reach a certain level yet to carry out that task.

    • Hey Emmanuel, I agree that information overload can be an issue when leading from the overflow. I know that I get overwhelmed by the amount of information available esp on the Internet. I believe that leaders need to be disciplined when it comes to information consumption. You can’t know about everything so you need to be strategic about what information gaps that you need to fill in order to be effective as a leader. There is a need for the leader to be self aware as well in the sense that he knows his preferred learning styles and seeks to consume information that carter to his learning preferences. I think with regards to the leader lacking the necessary skills and abilities to be effective then the correct information at his disposal will indicate what he needs to do to address such deficiencies and who he needs to contact to help him acquire the necessary skills.

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