Leadership and Sustainability
As I was reading Dave Rathacker’s June Comanche Marketing article titled “Authentic and Caring Leadership“, it brought to mind many of the people that I have worked with in the past and currently. Those that are authentic and caring leaders, as well as those that lead by threat and intimidation. These two styles of leadership can both get desired results, yet only the authentic and caring leader can get sustainable results.
Ironically, a week before Dave’s article, I had a conversation about this very subject with Currie Gauvreau, an industry friend of mine, who specializes in leadership training. To pull a bit from his bio, Currie is an experienced trainer and educator having taught for more than 26 years and has served as an adjunct faculty member and guest speaker at a variety of universities since 2006. He holds a master’s degree from the University of South Florida and is a graduate of the prestigious JW Fanning Institute of Leadership Development Program from the University of Georgia. Currie is a very engaging speaker and sought-after expert in the field of leadership and business coaching. Dave’s last article on leadership, along with his previous article, “The Transformational Leader”, concurs with many of Currie’s thoughts and ideas as well.
I lead a team of nine individuals, and like many leaders, I thrive to hone and improve my leadership skills to the benefit of all. I learn from reading articles like Dave’s, which usually refer to other sources, to further research and improve on what you have already accomplished. I have had several conversations with Currie as well on the attributes of great leaders, and it is a subject that he is very passionate about. You may be wondering why I’m bringing the subject up again? Well, I believe that great leaders run great organizations with great sustainable results, and it is always good to learn as much as we can about how to lead from many sources. You never know you may pick up another “transformational” idea.
So, to that end, I’d like to share some insight from Currie about leadership. I find it very interesting during conversations with Currie when he mentions that to understand leadership today, you need to understand its evolution:
“Most people think leadership became a hot topic in the last quarter-century because of the brutal working conditions and treatment of workers through the Industrial Age. For instance, 100 years ago, managers did not care if you were motivated, happy, satisfied, etc., all the things that make up true leadership. All they cared about was if you were productive. And if you weren’t, they found someone who was. What many people don’t realize is if you go back to ancient times, leaders of the day were writing about leadership concepts that today are embraced by the experts. Sun Tzu, Cicero, Lao Tzu, and even Jesus all talk about Servant Leadership as opposed to Dominion Leadership. They talk about humility, role modeling, and inspiring your people. It wasn’t until Machiavelli wrote The Prince in the 16th century that the hard-line manager came to be. He discussed maintaining power at all costs, by force or deceit, and we have been trying to recover for 400 years! But that’s a story for another day.”
As I mentioned upfront, you can get results by threat and intimidation (or as Currie mentions, “…by force or deceit”).
Yet are those results sustainable, and will people want to continue to follow you? Employee retention comes to mind here! No one is suggesting that you become a push-over boss. Inspiring people also involves setting goals and holding them accountable to achieve these goals for the benefit of the entire team.
Currie continues: “So if we study the ancient wisdom on leadership, we grow to appreciate some of the simplest concepts in leadership today. Things like open communication, being authentic, role modeling behavior, and knowing your team on a deeper level. Dominion (because I said so) Leadership started to change around 50 years ago, primarily due to the work of psychologists and academics like Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, Frederic Herzberg, and Peter Drucker. Although they are categorized as “Management Experts”, they were truly the modern-day leadership pioneers. Through their work, leaders realized that they could get more production out of their workers by enticing them and started to focus on worker motivation. This is still the standard today, but I contend there is a better way. I think we should be focused on INSPIRING our teams instead. The difference is simple in concept: ‘Motivation is lighting a fire UNDER someone, while inspiration is lighting a fire WITHIN someone!’ Maybe, we should be inspiring our people rather than trying to motivate them! I can’t think of higher praise than for someone to tell me that I inspired them! There is a higher level of achievement and getting production out of your team, and that higher level is an inspiration. If you strive to inspire rather than motivate, you will reach levels in life you never dreamed were possible.”
“Leadership is a choice, not a position.” —Stephen Covey
So, once you choose to lead, lead with inspiration! Inadequate leadership leads to mediocrity and team members that are just going through the motions. This comes across in the workplace, as well as with their interactions with your clients.
Inspirational leadership leads to excellence and team members that are “Authentic and Caring”, just like their leader, in all aspects of their personal life, career, AND client interaction!
Thanks to Dave for the inspiration to write this article and to Currie for another expert’s insight.
Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions
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