“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 Gough
Leadership is in crisis. Strong words perhaps, but being a ‘leader’ is a privilege yet many of our leaders are falling very short of their obligations. Leadership is all about service not self. A true leader serves those he/she leads not the other way around-but somewhere, somehow, we increasingly seem to be forgetting who serves whom.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with some of America’s finest young leaders the other day. We discussed how the world screams for strong leaders today more than ever. These young folks are frustrated by what they perceive as a very real global crisis of leadership. They fully understand that leadership is not about winning, promotion, or personal power. It’s all about the greater good.
Furthermore, a recent Gallup poll highlighted 50 per cent of America’s workers are disengaged at work with another 20 per cent are actively disengaged (read actively hostile toward the employer); so 70 per cent of America’s work force is operating in a miserable fog; a fog that only strong value driven leadership can lift.
The 70 per cent 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 is a quintessential leadership problem.
Put simply, weak leaders don’t emphasise the strategic perspective or assist in illuminating how individuals contribute to the perspective. Further, these weak leaders do not infuse meaning into their subordinate’s work. These faux leaders fail to offer positive feedback, and they fail to provide coaching, mentoring, or professional development.
In other words, poor 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.
Personal power leaders
Personal power leaders lead from a position of self—these are the leaders who ask “what’s in it for me?” Personal power leaders want to know how big their office is, when’s the next promotion, comparing paychecks, and where’s their parking spot located. These personal power leaders want the respect, dignity, title, without earning these things 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 in return.
Greater good leaders
Greater good leaders are different. True leadership is increasingly 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 organisation’s mission and vision, all the while making these individuals stronger leaders and turning them back into the workforce ultimately improving the world for the better.
This type of leadership is subjective versus objective. As a global community we have rung all we can out of the objective side of leadership. We have to ask: are our objective leaders today better than our leaders of the past? Are we mass producing leaders where once we had managers through fad and fashion Can we identify the personal power leader? Can we identify the greater good leader when we see him/her?
So now, let’s imagine an organization with leaders who possess these traits that:
- Lets people be themselves.
- Celebrate differences and gest the right people into the right seats at the right time.
- Communicates and understands the power in enabling an organization with the free flow of information.
- Understands and utilizes people’s strengths.
- Helps tie daily work to strategic objectives.
- Establish rules and regulations people believe in and hold everyone, including leaders, accountable and responsible for outcomes.
It’s the art of leadership and advancing leadership to improve the world. It’s not easy, but it is definitely worthwhile.
A version of this post also resides at The University of Cambridge’s Social Innovation Blog