“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
― Vincent van Gogh
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend about 90 minutes speaking with some of America’s finest at Squadron Officer School the other day. These “mentoring” sessions are always interesting as I seem to learn much more from them than they do from me. I’m pretty okay with that… it all goes to Andy Christiansen’s 40/40 Principle…where individuals over 40 mentor those below, but those under 40 mentor those above as well.
A couple of items we discussed–we need leaders today more than ever. These young officers are frustrated by what they perceive as a very real crisis of leadership in America. They fully understand that leadership is not about winning, promotion, or personal power. It’s all about the greater good.
To that point, a recent Gallup poll highlighted 50% of America’s workers are disengaged at work with another 20% are ACTIVELY disengaged (read actively hostile toward the employer); so 70% of America’s work force is operating in a miserable fog–a fog that only strong leadership can lift.
Why? This 70% doesn’t understand their organization’s mission or how their work contributes to the unit’s mission. Look around for disengaged employees—you can spot them a mile away…and look at their bosses. This comes down to a leadership problem.
Put simply– poor leaders don’t emphasize the strategic perspective or assist and illuminate how individuals contribute and these poor leaders do not pour meaning into their subordinate’s work. These faux leaders fail to offer positive feedback, and fail to provide coaching, mentoring, or professional development.
In other words….weak leaders don’t see value in helping their organization’s members succeed. They have no insight, tools, competence in motivation, and no strategic sense of how to align individual activities toward strategic direction.
These personal power leaders want the respect, the dignity, and the title, without earning it by leading people toward lives that matter. They want the love leaders earn without having the courage, the humility, or the wisdom to give or love back.
Greater good leaders are different. True leadership is rapidly becoming a lost art and these greater good leaders lead not to a place, but to a higher level of existence–a better truer self. It is an act of love in a very uncertain world. It’s taking time to understand people and how they can contribute their unique strengths to the organization’s mission and vision–and all the while…making these individuals stronger leaders and turning them back into the workforce and ultimately improving the world for the better.
This type of leadership is subjective—versus objective, and as a nation we have rung all we can out of the objective side of leadership—and we have to ask…are our objective leaders today better than our leaders of the past? Or is it simply a way to simplify the mass production of perceived leaders? Can we identify the greater good leader when we see her? Can we identify the personal power leader? Further…we have to remember between doing anything and doing nothing cultures get what they celebrate and the degree to which we do that…what are we celebrating today as a culture?
So now, let’s imagine an organization with leaders who:
1) Let people be themselves…and get the right people into the right seats at the right time.
2) Communicate and understand the power in enabling an organization with the free flow of information.
3) Understand and utilize people’s strengths.
4) Help daily work make sense and tie that to strategic objectives.
5) Establish rules that people can believe in and hold everyone, including leaders, accountable and responsible.
It’s all about heroic engagement and advancing leadership to improve the world….