2018 Housing Summit

3 Keys to Being a Disruptive Leader

Retired NFL linebacker David Vobora specializes in performance training, coaching athletes of all types, from Olympic to collegiate to those with severe disabilities. He talks about what makes a disruptive leader who empowers people to lead with compassion.
August 23, 2018

“People don’t like change—we often freeze when faced with a new or unfamiliar situation. It’s easy to get caught up in an emotional response to fear rather than listening to our instincts. Fear is what allows us to operate with blinders on—without vision or awareness—and simply run on autopilot.”

Former NFL linebacker David Vobora is no stranger to disappointments on and off the football field. After a career-ending football injury and an addiction to painkillers, Vobora learned to tune into his gut and silence the fear within. He now helps others lead with compassion—it’s compassion that interrupts you and compels you to serve. Disruptive leaders are aware, they use their emotional intelligence (EQ) to drive learning experiences, and they empower people through experience.

Poll: How often do you engage in an unexpected situation when you witness someone in need?



1. Turn Awareness Into Action

A leader deals hope to others, and hope is a priceless currency. If you treat someone as if they’re broken, they’ll act broken. But if you acknowledge a person as an equal and you give them a purpose, they’ll be empowered to rise up—and you’ll inspire a new leader by doing so.

Disruptive leaders look for ways to turn awareness into action. There’s an opportunity every day to lighten someone else’s load. Think about ways your own pain or struggles—experiences you would typically hide from other people—could be used to help someone else with a similar struggle. You may not be able to solve their problem, but you can help alleviate their suffering, empower them to make a change and give them a new perspective.

Poll: What do you believe is the most valuable attribute to be a successful CEO?



2. EQ Over IQ

Emotional intelligence is the most important quality needed to lead. Your greatest mentors—people who allowed you to be heard and helped you along the path to success—utilized EQ to make that connection. A broad range of technical skills and years of experience will help you run a successful business—but emotional intelligence is what ties all of these attributes together and allows you to have a greater impact.

We’ve all experienced hardships or struggles to get to where we are. Success doesn’t happen in spite of hardship—it happens because of it. The purpose of your pain is to help others who may be going through a similar struggle. Connecting with your EQ leads to a shift in perspective, broader awareness and the opportunity to lead and empower others.

Poll: How often do you rely on your gut instinct or intuition over quantifiable data when making a hire?



3. Reframing Fear Through Experience

A disruptive leader is aware of opportunities to empower people through experience. Too often, we wait for others to take the lead. How often do we pause our lives to create a teaching moment for others? Management is so much more than teaching a behavior to get a desired result. It’s creating an experience for people that can ultimately help form beliefs, shape new behaviors and drive different results.

Experiential learning is the best way to create intuition and reframe fear. The next time you’re in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, recognize that your emotional intelligence, derived from the hardships or struggles you endured, are now what qualify you to lead. Through experience, you can learn to tune into the brain in your gut over the brain in your head—and this can be transformational.

David Vobora is founder and CEO of the nonprofit Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, Texas. The documentary series “Upstanders” showcases the groundbreaking work of the Adaptive Training Foundation in building physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength in clients with physical disabilities, allowing them to create positive change in their communities.

Used with permission. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of JPMorgan Chase. JPMorgan Chase believes the information contained in this material to be from reliable sources but make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy or completeness.


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