For more than two decades, in many ways, in many forums, with thousands of leaders, I’ve taught that organizational results are limitless.
Those leaders who don’t understand this don’t understand the soul of leadership. When I say “soul”, I don’t mean it in a religious sense, but in a human sense, and not as a static entity but as a fundamental process that manifests the value inherent in all organizations. The soul of leadership is that which triggers and guides the best organizational activities to achieve the best results.
However, there is another soul at work here. It is the leadership soul of the individual leader. Again, I am not using the word in a religious sense but in a human sense, and as a fundamental process that manifests the human value inherent in each individual leader.
The leadership soul of the leader is that inner strength and commitment an individual draws on in order to carry out the activities of the soul of leadership.
Mind you, I am not counting angels on the head of a pin. The difference between the soul of leadership and the leadership soul of the individual leader is not a philosophical fine distinction. The difference may not be readily apparent, but it is manifest, and it is decisive. It’s a difference most leaders and their organizations are not aware of — to their detriment.
The soul of leadership looks outward, the leadership soul of the individual looks inward. Working in tandem, both outer and inner directed activities can notably increase the effectiveness of your leadership. When both the soul of leadership and the leadership soul unite, great things can happen.
That’s where limitless results come in. Most organizations have far more value locked up than their leaders realize. Those organizations consistently fail to tap the deep reservoirs of their members motivation, talent and skills. After all, most members of most organizations want to do well. In fact, in each organization, the members, naturally and collectively, represent an on-rushing current of ardent commitment to succeed. However, through misguided leadership, leadership that is tyrannical and micro-managing, leadership that coerces rather than motivates, that current can be blocked, impeding results.
The blockage occurs when leaders focus exclusively on ordering the establishment of surface drivers such as sales and marketing activities, logistical dynamics, organizational strategies and tactics, financial strategies and tactics, human resource undertakings, and the like — what business schools teach.
Clearly, the surface drivers are necessary in realizing the value an organization possesses, but they’re not sufficient. In focusing exclusively on the above drivers, leaders often neglect the deepest and most important realm of all, the realm which largely determines the success or failure of the organization, the realm of human relationships — what business schools don’t teach.
For example, I’m sure you’ve heard of the classic case of the railroads of the mid-20th century neglecting to understand they were in the transportation business and losing out to airlines in the passenger market. Railroad leaders did a fair to middling job of dealing with sales, logistics, administration, etc. But their hierarchical, top-down management structures and culture that viewed their employees much like rail cars to be pushed and pulled here and there, probably prevented them tapping into the immense collective value of those employees. If the employees had been empowered, motivated and unleashed, they would have brought a richer vision of market dynamics to railroads that could have forestalled their decline.
On the other hand, I know of a company that has consistently tapped into the strengths of its employees. In the 1930s, they were in the tea bag business. However, they didn’t see themselves in the tea bag business but in the materials’ business. As markets kept changing, their offerings kept changing and today, their tea bag paper products have morphed into hi-tech thermoplastics. They couldn’t have done it without tapping into the value of their employees.
There are many ways to unlock value in an organization. Those are not the purview of this article. The main point I’m making is about the leadership soul of the leader and unlocking its value.
Just as the results-potential of organizations are limitless, so the interior of each leader is a limitless world of value.
To unlock the value within an organization, leaders must unlock the leadership value within themselves.
What is this leadership value? It is the value you have simply being a human being. All human beings have a powerful capacity for transformation because they possess an innate capacity to direct a strong sense of determination and action in whatever direction they choose.
Furthermore, humans also have an powerful capacity to form and manifest deep, transforming relationships. And it is in the on-going transforming of relationships that you find and unlock the leadership value within yourself.
How do you unlock the value inherent in your organization and in yourself? Fortunately, there is a simple, powerful tool to do that. I call it the Leadership Imperative: “I will lead people in such a way that we not only get results but grow as leaders and human beings.”
Make this principle live in your daily actions, and you’ll be unlocking and unleashing great organizational value — as well as great value in your career and your life.
2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The author of 23 books, Brent Filson’s recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. and for more than 21 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: “49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results,” at http://www.actionleadership.com
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